Dr. Michelle Golland: Connecticut mother Jennifer Ghoshray, who homeschools her two daughters (ages 6 and 7), brought her kids to the gruesome trial of multiple-murder suspect Steven Hayes, telling reporters that it was for a "civics lesson." Really?
Oh -- and she had prepared them by discussing the case for "six or seven months." Really?!
Oh -- and what Ghoshray was having her young daughters focus on was the emotional state of both the survivor, Dr. William Petit, and the man who's on trial for allegedly killing Petit's wife and two daughters. Really?!?
This doesn't sound like a children's "civics lesson," it sounds like a forensic psychology course! As a political-science class, civics should involve the study of civic affairs and the rights and duties of citizens. An appropriate civics lesson for a 6- or 7-year-old? How a bill becomes a law. Or "What are the requirements to hold a political office in this country?" Or "What is a jury?" This mom is way off base if she thinks exposing her young children to this gruesome crime over a long period of time is educationally relevant or emotionally healthy.
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It also seems Ghoshray wasn't trying to instruct her children on court proceedings (a potentially acceptable civics lesson). Rather, she focused her "lesson" on the deep, tragic pain of the surviving victim and the sick, twisted state of mind of an alleged rapist and killer! Even if it were part of a purported "lesson plan," this case is too emotionally charged and frightening for young girls to be exposed to -- let alone to have to ponder and consider.
The Petit home invasion, robbery, rape and murders took place on the morning of July 23, 2007. The crimes allegedly committed by Hayes against the Petit family were particularly heinous. After beating and binding Dr. William Petit, say prosecutors, Hayes and his accomplice raped Mrs. Petit and Michaela, the Petit's 11-year-old daughter, and then tied all three females (the Petit's 17-year-old daughter Hayley was also present) to their beds ... and then set the house on fire.
Many of the jurors cried during the testimony, due to the horrific nature of the crimes -- also not something for young girls to be exposed to! This being said, I don't believe in shielding our children from the reality of crime. But we should only tell them about it in order to educate them about the dangers of sexual abuse and other crimes against children, and to teach them about safety and how to protect themselves. Furthermore, when teaching this type of lesson, adults should shield children from the gruesome details in order to avoid traumatizing them -- a very different paradigm from the one followed by Jennifer Ghoshray.
My thought? This mother wanted to attend the trial because of her own interest in the Hayes case. It was selfish and thoughtless of her to put her two young daughters through that -- even under the guise of "civics".