Growing up, I never personally knew anyone who had something terrible happen to them. The closest to the ugliness of the world that ever touched me was the ghost story my siblings use to tell me about Chaz. I didn't even believe Chaz was real and didn't learn he was until I was an adult and my mother told me he was. Chaz was a neighbor in our New Hampshire home who all my siblings thought creepy. They didn't want to play with him, but in those days, parents made you be friends with everyone, so he got to tag along in the group.
As the story goes, Chaz first revealed his terrifying personality by killing a cat with a rock, taking all the kids there to see it, and then poking its eyes out with a stick. That's the part of the tale where older sister use to shudder for emphasis. From that point on the neighborhood gang tried to avoid Chaz. One day they were all playing tag in the street, Chaz joined in and he had a knife and stabbed a little girl to death. It was beyond what was believable to me growing up, so fantastic that I rolled my eyes, and my siblings pressed on that it was true, he was in mental hospital to be locked away forever!
In my childhood, I didn't even believe an ugly story that was true. Now, nearly ever child has an ugly a story that is true and they are no longer ghost tales to tell at night to their younger siblings, but just something that is. Matter-of-fact. An accepted part of the world. The Oregon school shooting and lockdown a two minute news bleeb; forty years ago unthinkable.
When did that happen? Has it always been so or do we just see it now?