OPINION: A painful few days after Manchester atrocity

It has been a painful last few days after the Manchester bombing atrocity, a period which has not only left the North of England numb with grief but has, understandably, left an entire nation on edge.

Tuesday, 30th May 2017, 4:55 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:13 pm
A vigil was held for the victims of the Manchester bombing on the steps of Portsmouth Guildhall and tributes laid to the 22 killed Picture: Keith Woodland (170679-027)

Since that darkest of nights last Monday we have begun to get used to the sight of soldiers guarding our major public spaces and buildings.

Although we have been here before this particular outrage has been harder to take because children were caught up at the very heart of it.

Many mums and dads I know are now openly questioning whether they should take the risk of attending concerts or public events with their kids in tow – in some cases that British stiff upper lip has been put to one side.

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Whether or not this is temporary remains to be seen.

In the first few days after the attack, many people I spoke with, including those who were hundreds of miles away from the scene of this most heinous of crimes, appeared traumatised by what had happened.

The wall-to-wall coverage of the aftermath has consumed many of us to the point that we run the risk of causing ourselves real problems at home.

In my view the biggest risk to our children is not cowardly madmen intent on mass murder but the accessibility of unfiltered information.

When I was growing up in the 1980s, if my parents wanted to avoid me being exposed to the harsh realities of life then they would make sure I was ushered out of the living room while Sandy Gall read out the headlines at 6pm.

Nowadays, news is everywhere and is available at all times of the day.

My dad used to sit down at set times to consume his news but in this age of multi-tasking we take in our information on the go.

I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to this although I am slowly learning how to shield my kids from the dark side of life even if it means me forgoing my regular fix of current affairs.

Since the morning of May 23 we have welcomed Radio 1 into our lives as part of the quest to protect our seven-year-old from the grim updates about the Manchester attacks.

Music has done much to bring to lighten the mood both in our house and, I’d dare say, in homes across the country.

My own daughter’s willingness to say precisely what is on her mind has been a big help to me this week – especially when she told me that she didn’t want to listen to any more radio reports about the Manchester attacks.

One of the biggest lessons we can learn from the horrors of last week is that our precious youngsters really do need to be protected from such outrages.