Reflections on another tragic shooting and protecting our children

three images consisting of varying social media logos in bubbles, fancy china set laid out with flower center piece, and Suffolk County Community College Administration buildingAnother Tragic Shooting – My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the tragic shooting that took place Wednesday in South Florida. Once again, I am left shaking my head wondering how so much evil can exist in someone so young, and questioning at what point we will start to implement real measures at schools that will protect our kids. And while a necessary part of those safety measures includes a better process to make sure that mentally ill people do not have access to firearms, the harsh reality is that our kids continue to be murdered in their schools while the endless debate over gun control rolls on.

The law in New York requires that as parents, we have our children, beginning at five years old, leave the safety of our homes and attend a public or accredited private school. That requirement creates a social contract, relied upon by parents, that those schools will use reasonable measures to keep our kids safe. I stand in awe of the teachers who give their lives to save students, and while I do believe that schools and governments take this issue seriously, they need to do better. We need to find ways to give people who find themselves in this horrific situation a chance to defend themselves, and not just be sitting ducks for these maniacs.

One solution may be that all schools have firearms in locked storage, accessible only by trained volunteer staff members who would have access to them in case a shooter made his way into the school. Another may be empowering a volunteer security force, wherein retired military, police officers, and others with training on handling firearms could act as armed security guards at schools. Another solution that should be mandatory, as I’ve discussed in a previous post, is at least having metal detectors at all schools. I know these may not be perfect, or even feasible, solutions, but whatever our response to this tragedy is, it must offer real safety options; simply shaking our heads and blaming guns does not cut it. We owe it to our kids (and educators) to give them a fighting chance when faced with this nightmare.

Clean Up YouTube – Speaking of protecting our kids, we also need to use the tragedy of serial molester Larry Nassar and the total lack of responsibility by USA Gymnastics as a further wakeup call. I have represented gymnastics schools for years, and I was consulted by several others after the Nassar story began to circulate. Those gyms, recognizing the potentially awkward situation that exists when a young girl is doing gymnastics (gymnasts are usually wearing just a leotard; they have routines that frequently include splits, backbends, and handstands; contact for spotting purposes must be made between them and their coaches, many of whom are male), wanted to make sure that they were doing everything they could to help ensure the safety of their students.

One of the issues we looked at was any liability that a gym could incur when a gymnast posts their routine online (recording routines is a very popular way for coaches to help train a gymnast and many of these videos find their way onto the internet). While considering this situation, we noticed a disturbing trend on YouTube: numerous gymnastics videos that young girls posted to share with their friends had apparently been edited to focus on the scenes where the girl was in her most vulnerable positions (legs open, etc.). Even more disturbing was that the thumbnail pictures displayed to introduce the videos depicted these young girls in their most vulnerable poses. The most disturbing thing, however, was that most of these videos (of amateur girls doing gymnastics) had hundreds of thousands if not over a million views, leading to the logical conclusion that these videos are being watched by many who really have no interest in gymnastics but instead in the young gymnast.

Parents, I understand that you already have your hands full navigating the murky waters of social media, but you really need to take some responsibility with what your kids are posting (particularly since many of these videos are of children who appear to be 12 or younger). And YouTube, if you’re listening, you really need to help parents clean this up! Some suggestions would be to make your reporting system much more accessible and easier to use (particularly with the app), and to have a policy that any video that depicts only minors could be considered a violation of your Terms of Service and therefore could be removed. These seem like simple, low-cost efforts that could help keep kids safe without trampling on anyone’s First Amendment rights.


The Pool Restaurant – As mentioned previously, I recently dined at The Pool, which is the second new restaurant to occupy the former Four Seasons space in the Seagram Building (located on Park Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets). We arrived a little early and enjoyed cocktails in the lounge area, which was a very nice space. Martinis were dry and delicious. Our table was right at the “pool” and the service and wine list were exceptional. Some favorites from the evening were the scampi ravioli and charred octopus for appetizers, and the monkfish and strip steak for main entrees. We enjoyed the raspberry princess cake for dessert. In addition to some champagne, we washed our dinner down with a beautiful 2003 Chateâu Clerc Milon – a rare treat!

Baccarat Hotel – We stayed that evening at the Baccarat Hotel, which was exceptional as well. From the doorman who greeted us, to the friendly folks at the front desk, to the beautiful lobby and room (and mini bar spotlighting beautiful Baccarat crystal), the experience could not have been more convenient or welcoming. I especially liked the way the full wall mirror opposite the bed converted into a television when you activated the remote…

Suffolk Strong – Perhaps the best part of blogging so far has been the wonderful new people I’ve connected with through it. After reading about my work with HIA-LI to attract investment in the Hauppauge Industrial Park and keep our talented young people on Long Island, as well as my involvement with the launch of the Tesla Science Center, Dr. Fara Afshar, Associate Academic Dean of STEM at Suffolk Community College, reached out to discuss ways we could collaborate. Last week I enjoyed meeting Dr. Afshar and her colleague, Drew Biondo, the College Communications Director, and chatting about just how aligned our goals are for the Long Island community. I look forward to working with them.