I write today with a heavy heart. My thoughts are with the family of Hailey Owens. An innocent life lost all too soon. This tragic event is not one that we face often in our small community in Southwest Missouri, and I see the impact it has had on many through social media. I applaud the witnesses that saw the abduction taking place, and their courageous efforts to chase the suspect, turning over what information they gathered to the police. It is not often that the suspect in a case like this is found, and subsequently arrested, in a matter of a few short hours. Hats off to the Springfield Police Department for doing a great job chasing down leads quickly. Unfortunately, the tragedy in all of this is that although witnesses and police responded promptly, a matter of a few hours is all it took for the situation to end in tragedy. And an innocent child who was doing no harm to anyone, just playing, has lost her short life. I can’t imagine the fear she must have been in during those last hours of her life.
It has become all too commonplace to hear all too frequently of child abductions, murders, and senseless shooting sprees. What has happened to us as a society? What has caused us to become so desensitized that people commit these tragic acts so frequently? I fear for the future and the path that society is headed down. So many innocent lives lost and destroyed.
I firmly believe that the violence portrayed in movies and video games leads to children becoming desensitized. It seems like no big deal to see it in a movie, to play it in a game. But it’s not real, and sometimes is hard for children to think about the consequences of events like this. The consequences of school shootings and the like.
But it isn’t just the violence we see and expose our children too. We have a mental health epidemic. Too many people who desperately need and seek out help, but either don’t have the means to attain it, or are not taken seriously. Or people brush aside things that point to real problems because they are too busy to take notice. There is certainly no abundance of mental health providers, and many communities have a huge lack of providers with a very long waiting period to even be seen.
And sometimes neither one of the above noted issues seem to be a factor in events such as this. We may never understand the turmoil and pain inside of those who commit these horrific acts. We may never know what led them to make the choices they made, that ended in tragedy.
As a parent you want to instill the value in your children of kindness. To teach them to give it and to receive it. But in the society that we live in, we also have to teach them that not everyone has a kind heart. Not everyone means well. And do it in a way that doesn’t terrify them of walking outside. It saddens me that it has come to this. That you feel like you can’t let your children be alone for a minute. Because life can change forever in the blink of an eye. My children had many questions prior to even knowing the tragic end to this situation, as the news had reported the day prior of another child abduction in our area. They don’t understand how or why these things happen, and it scares them to some degree. Our children have lost a sense of innocence from the violence they are exposed to, the things they hear on the news. They are forced to grow up way too fast, and no longer able to just be children.
This turn of events puts life in perspective. Just when I think I am stressed, it makes me step back and take a look at all of the blessings that I have, and what I have to be thankful for. My “problems” seem so minor today in light of what this family is going through.
I don’t know what the answers are, or how we begin to put an end to these senseless tragedies. But somehow there has to be a way to identify signs in people that are struggling internally, and provide them with the help they need, before more innocent lives are lost. I pray that the family of Hailey Owens will have the love and support they need to deal with this tragedy, and that somehow, they will eventually find peace. I can’t even fathom losing a child, my heart breaks for them. Rest in peace Hailey Owens.