Reaction against NSA misses mark

Published 9:36 pm Saturday, March 28, 2009

As a parent of two Nansemond Suffolk Academy children, I support last week’s police search at our school and used it as a teaching moment for my own children.

All of the other school parents I’ve spoken to also support what happened. Nowhere did I see evidence that anyone expects their children to be treated differently. Unfortunately, the local media’s reaction to all that has happened has upset me much, much more.

Drug sweeps are done at many schools and you don’t see them with major media coverage, repeatedly naming a student who was charged.

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Before anyone gets mad that I’m defending the student, there are people charged with much more serious crimes who don’t make the front page of the local paper. He made a mistake, and he should suffer the consequences, but the constant media coverage seems overblown. (He has been named in every article I’ve read on this subject.)

Now to the bashing that Colley Bell is getting about his apology letter. Last year, our family’s bikes were stolen from our shed. A month later, the children who stole them rode into the park next to our house on our bikes. I recognized the bikes, confronted them and called the police on my cell phone. The police quickly responded and did what they needed to do, which was to try to scare the kids straight before they handcuffed them and took them off to the police station.

But do you know what was interesting? I felt bad for the kids. They stole our bikes, and I knew that calling the police was the right thing to do, but still I felt terrible about their having to go through that and imagining how their parents would feel.

While I don’t know exactly why Colley wrote his apology letter, I realize that he was probably feeling the same way I did about the kids that stole our bikes. That doesn’t mean he condones drugs or is caving under some sort of pressure. It means he has empathy and was obviously still distraught over the whole incident.

The timing of this, I’m sure, has contributed to these reactions. With Wall Street, AIG and people like Bernie Madoff getting people justifiably angry, America right now is ready to battle anyone who is seen as being too high on their horse. Judging from most of the Suffolk News-Herald and Pilot Online comments to this story, locally they seemed to have chosen NSA.

I just had to show that there are two sides to every story.

Amy Birdsong