It's nearly impossible to wrap my brain around that unfolded at a Century movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado.
By now, we all know that a mad man (whose name I refuse to type because I don't want to give him more notoriety) stood before a crowd that had gathered to watch the midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises.
Dressed in full riot gear, the assassin allegedly tossed tear gas canisters onto the floor, then mercilessly opened fire on the crowd. In the end, 12 people were killed and 59 were injured.
As stories of the massacre hit the media, I have to admit that I was surprised to discover just how many children were in the theatre that terrifying night. The tragedy started several debates, such as the need for stricter gun control, but many people have been questioning why children were at a midnight screening of a PG-13 movie in the first place.
Reports have named a baby as young as 3-months-old as being one of the injured. A six-year-old girl named Veronica Moser-Sullivan was among the victims who lost their lives that night. A young family barely escaped with their lives.
Jamie Rohrs, and his fiancee, Patricia Legarreta, attended the screeing with their four-month-old son and four-year-old daughter. In an interview with ABC news, Rohrs said the two took their children to the show because they figured they'd sleep through it.
"We just moved here from New Mexico," he said. "We have to go out. We have to do things. You don't think you're going to get shot. You're just living your life."
I'm not claiming to be an expert on parenting, but I would not take my children to see a PG-13 film. Of course, I have two very sensitive boys who get nervous just walking into a dark movie theatre. Not to mention that if I attempted to take my 3-year-old to a movie that started as late as midnight, his exhausted fussing would be louder than the film itself.
That being said, I don't fail to see the parallels between the real life atrocities witnessed at the screening and the violent images presented in The Dark Knight Rises. The villain, Bane, sets a reign of terror on Gotham City and goes so far as to blow up a football stadium, killing innocent football players.
I believe that we would have a better chance at raising peaceful adults if children were not exposed to extreme media violence early in their lives. It makes me sick to think that innocent children were killed, injured, or even that they saw such terror.
I am not placing blame on the parents of the young victims or witnesses of the horrible incident. My heart goes on to every single person who was in the theatre that fateful night. After all, parents should be able to take their children wherever they choose without the fear of a mentally deranged person opening fire in front of them.
I know that lives were lost and that now is not the time to pass judgment. My hope is that as our nation heals from this nightmare, we can reflect on the changes that we can make as parents to promote peace in our world instead of violence.
Would you take your children to see a midnight screening of a PG-13 movie? Do you think that movie violence can influence children? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.