I was 11 years old when a man murdered Kevin Tapp of Enid in the summer of 1976. Kevin was also 11.
I was 12 years old when someone murdered three Girl Scouts — Lori Lee Farmer, 8, of Tulsa; Michelle Guse, 9, of Broken Arrow; and Doris Denise Milner, 10, of Tulsa — at Camp Scott near Locust Grove during summer break in 1977.
Now I'm 43 years old and someone has slain two young girls during summer break 2008 on a rural road in Okfuskee County. Granted, there have been many other horrible crimes in between. But this latest took me back to those in 1976 and 1977.
People of all ages struggle, deeply struggle, with such senseless, hateful, twisted acts as these.
But what about children? How will they remember summer break 2008? Were their friends slain? Were children their age slain? Did their parents no longer let them do things they had done before? Did fear become as much a part of their summer as T-shirts and shorts?
How do we cope? More specifically how do we help children cope?
Also unfortunate is the fact that I've previously asked this question of Charlotte Lankard, a marriage and family therapist in private practice with Baptist Counseling Associates. The last time was with the murder of Jamie Rose Bolin, 10, of Purcell in April 2006.
Also unfortunate is the fact that this question needs to be asked now and will need to be asked again.
Lankard, who also is director of the James L. Hall Center for Mind, Body and Spirit at Integris, said that sometimes children won't want to talk about it. They might "try to process it with their own limited understanding.”
But that doesn't necessarily mean a parent should let it go. Saying nothing may increase the anxiety.