As parents, when we look into the faces of our children, we see their whole lives laid out in front of them. Before they even take their first steps or speak their first words, we imagine what kind of people they will be — whether they'll go to college or if they'll someday have a family of their own. We wonder if they will find jobs, if they'll have a place to live and if they'll fall in love. Will they be who we've always imagined they'd be?
But for Samaria Rice, those dreams came to an abrupt end on Nov. 22, 2014, when her son, Tamir, was shot just seconds after Cleveland police arrived outside the Cudell Recreation Center. The 12-year-old ultimately lost his life for playing with an airsoft gun in the park with the orange safety cap removed.
The world is still buckling at the weight of all the possible moments Tamir will never experience. In the wake of such tragedy, we attempt to come to terms with the gravity of this loss by asking ourselves what can be done now and in the future for the children who have days in front of them.
"Twelve-year-old boys are interesting because they're starting to come out of the shell that they were in when they were younger," says Dr. Ethan Schafer, a consultant psychologist for University School. "They're starting to explore their own identities and things that define who they are. In middle school, you start to get confronted with the fact that the world isn't as perfect as you might have thought."
Navigating the beginnings of adolescence poses a much larger challenge now than it might have 20 years ago thanks to our dependence on social media, the development of technology and the heightened awareness and sensitivity that comes along with such things. Our kids are forever connected with each other and with the world around them — and with such connectivity comes a need for maturity.
"Kids are being potentially confronted with things of greater intensity and greater complexity at increasingly early ages," says Schafer. "The social awakening that happens around 12 and the organizational demands that are so increased around that age are quite crucial. They start to look much more outward and they start paying attention more to the perception of others."
12:00 AM EST
February 26, 2015