Detail - The School Bus

When Morality Rings a Bell.



This school bus on the piece is intentionally chosen because it is tiny..representing how insignificant I felt we children really were in the entire case.

I distressed it, covered it with some sand & pencil shavings, placed it awkwardly as if at the edge of a precipice. I have some specific traumatic memories involving the school bus.

School buses used to remind me of fear, distress, and hopelessness...feelings of bewilderment, and a desire for escape. Since I've done this work, they have a more neutral effect on me.

Like many of the 'triggers' I've faced doing this work, school buses are now an everyday 'thing' that I can experience while being in the here and now, conjuring less of the traumatic memories from the Hawthorn years.

In a famous school bus kidnapping case, some children were once buried in the desert in a school bus. Many of them ended up with PTSD and other serious problems such as anxiety, drug abuse, dropping out of school, depression and other mood disorders, etc.

To me, it seemed my school was buried in a hole. That our experiences have not seen sunlight seems like nobody has dug it out, yet. I truly hope the other children have coped better with these memories but most I have contact with relay that it has been a struggle for many of us.

Authorities who were supposed to have protected us did their best, I'm sure. But the bullying experiences were ongoing, deeply painful, and completely preventable. The barbed wire represents the rural nature of our school district. Part of our playing field had some barbed wire on it for a time.

The Media's Role Can Help or Hurt

I do remember bits of terror being marched through a wall of media on the way to and from the various meetings...and having them outside our school filming while we were in there.

I remember the shock of hearing and seeing my parents and friends, family members on television and hearing people making cutting remarks based upon what they thought they knew of the case.

I remember my family trying to purchase groceries and having to go through the checkout aisle while the case (and the teacher's version of this story) was in national magazines, newspapers, etc. in the checkout aisle. I remember my teacher making the rounds on the national talk show circuit (though the amount of venues open to her was limited.)

"When children are victims of violence, journalists have a responsibility to report the truth with compassion and sensitivity."
Source: DART Center. Available:

I wish to recognize one outstanding journalist who I specifically remember interviewing myself and several of the other children with sensitivity and kindness. His demeanor helped me feel like there was a journalist who cared that we were a part of that story - though I'm not certain whether or not it actually gave him a story he could print. Walter Jacobson, thank you for your compassionate treatment of me. I greatly appreciate it.

I know what just a bit of that media circus did to me and my family. I can't imagine what the ongoing pile-on of it does to 'stars'...but every time I hear our 'news' hating on pop stars (or ANYONE) I wonder just why our society is ok with allowing the profiteering from 'the [insert pop-star-to-hate-of-the-day] update' on the news.

There was a time when this case appeared regularly in the Chicago Tribune, our local paper, Family Circle, Women's Day, The Today was very difficult to know how to handle the distress when this occurred.

Now that I'm older, I don't care for talk shows.

I believe it's little more than taking advantage of traumatized human beings.

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