What do we do when horrific, evil stories are in the news? It happened with Paul Bernardo’s 1995 trial, and now it’s happening again with the Robert Pickton trial.
Whether pig-farmer Pickton is found innocent or guilty of the grisly murders of the six women involved in this trial, the trial itself is rife with nauseating information — information that perhaps we don’t want to read first thing in the morning. Yet there it is, on the front pages of newspapers across the country, and abroad.
Whoever committed these crimes must be brought to justice and removed from society, and the full details must be published for public awareness. But how do we deal with it? Do we devour every word? Or do we refuse to read these vile accounts because they assault our sensitivities? I’m sure some people feel that way, and that’s understandable.
I asked Toronto-based therapist Dr. Cindy Wahler her thoughts: “The public has a choice of being selective by not following the story on a daily basis, that is, shutting out the media and moving on to other news.”
But is that the best response to true horror stories? After all, we need to know when wrongdoings have occurred, and be assured that guilty people are duly punished. So should we then read to be informed, yet hide the ugly news from our children?
How can parents explain these incomprehensible atrocities? Clearly with older children some thought is needed to compose decent explanations as to how these things can happen, and why there are people capable of such horrible acts of violence.
Even for adults, starting our day with crime scene photos, explicit descriptions of violent acts, torture and murder, is disturbing. Yet, as intelligent and informed citizens, we must find the balance to keep up with the news, but not be affected negatively.
According to Wahler, “the public has a responsibility to be and stay informed, as the more knowledge and information we have about these kinds of situations, the more our awareness is increased; and it allows us to respond — if we suspect any unusual or suspicious behaviour — to help intervene or prevent the enormity and tragedy of such events.”?
“The public also needs to keep in mind that although this is extraordinarily gruesome and is the largest murder trial in the history of Canada, that is the point ... it is so rare and remote in the range of possibilities, that we must keep cognizant of the fact that for the majority of the population we do live in a safe and healthy world.”
As women, we certainly don’t want these murders to go unpunished; or ignore that these women were killed because they were drug addicts or sex-trade workers, or because they were vulnerable, or because someone thought he had the right to punish them.
No one should meet their end in the gruesome and grisly way these women did. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims.