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Don’t let Grace murder stop your children living their life

PUBLISHED: 18:17 12 December 2018 | UPDATED: 22:33 12 December 2018

People lay flowers and light candles during a candlelight vigil for murdered British tourist Grace Millane at Cathedral Square in Christchurch, New Zealand

People lay flowers and light candles during a candlelight vigil for murdered British tourist Grace Millane at Cathedral Square in Christchurch, New Zealand

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

The tragic death of graduate Grace Millane in New Zealand can’t be allowed to stop youngsters following their dreams and pushing their boundaries, says Rachel Moore

Grace Millane was the epitome of what mothers of girls hope their small daughters will grow into.

Intelligent, bold, ambitious, kind and positive, grasping every opportunity that life presented and running with them in her own special way, with good grace and the biggest smile.

Completing her degree, like so many other young people, she craved to see the world, be independent, experience different cultures and explore the unknown.

She was living her best life. Something we all want for our children.

Her father said this week that he wouldn’t want what happened to his precious daughter to put off even one young person wanting to explore the world, or crush an adventurous spirit like her.

How hard those words must have been for a father who had lost the daughter he had protected for two decades, but so right to voice. To encourage your children to live the best life, independently and with passion, is the greatest gift a parent can give a child

Her university degree in the bag, Grace was spreading her wings and carving her own path before starting to shape a career. Making the most of her youth while she could. Every young person’s right, with the support of her family, who she “bombarded” with photos of her adventure.

Her murder was so shocking because she was treading a path worn by so many young people; striking out with the confidence her parents and education had instilled in her, in a city and nation viewed as generally safe – although domestic violence levels in New Zealand are among the highest in the world.

Her family’s tragedy has lingered in our heads longer than most.

We raise our children to be individuals, to aim high and be positive not fearful. Our responsibility as parents is to raise them to set them free.

We relish our daughters’ excitement and self-belief they can conquer everything our generation were scared of. We’re so proud that they are trampling down the barriers that we too often bowed to, venturing beyond boundaries we were too scared to try.

Thoughts for her devastated family dominated my weekend conversations with my closest friend. Our children are the same age as Grace, born days apart.

My friend’s daughter travelled in her gap year. She lay awake countless nights rigid with worry about the risks and problems she might face.

But she had brought her up confident to make the trip without her.

Reading weekend social media, together we raged against the ‘victim blamers’, the unkind, ill-informed and ignorant airing, who insensitively questioned the wisdom of young women travelling alone.

Travelling alone – as anyone who has backpacked, in cities like Auckland backpackers are a whole community – didn’t end her life, her killer did

These people wouldn’t question the wisdom of young women driving a car, statistically putting themselves at far greater risk of injury, or even skiing. Or say a 22-year-old man on a solo expedition was asking to be attacked, again more statistically likely.

Everyone, female or male, deserves to be safe and live life to the full. No one asks to be murdered. Blaming the victim as somehow failing to keep themselves safe is shameful. The killer is the only one to blame.

Equally loathsome, were those who questioned why her parents had ‘allowed’ her to travel alone in New Zealand. She was 22, not 12. A grown woman.

Her heartbroken parents should be hugely proud of the extraordinary daughter they raised.

To echo her father, young women planning similar trips should not let their wings be clipped by fear and what ifs.

A life lived in fear is a life wasted.

Live your best life.

STOP LIVING IN THE DARK AGES:

Some numpty on the radio this week justified switching off street lights at night by saying: “You don’t leave lights on in rooms where no one is in.”

Someone needs to tell him about the UK’s shift patterns, night workers, early morning starter, night economy, bus drivers, nurses, cleaners, out and about cycling, walking and driving in the pitch black. Need I go on?

If the world outside is pitch black, who would want to venture out, effectively trapping people, especially old people, in their homes.

To cut costs under the banner of “money saving”, in a climate of so much waste in the public sector, councils are literally plunging their people into the dark to try to minimise big black holes in their coffers.

They have to choose between lights or bin collections, lights or pothole repairs, lights or adult social care. You get the picture, for councils, it’s no-brainer council economics. Illuminations don’t come under essential services.

If someone gets knocked down walking into the road between two parked cars when all the lights are turned off, it’s another budget that pays for his health care. If the darkness attracts more crime, it comes under someone else’s financial responsibility.

Energy regulator Ofgem says wholesale electricity prices have increased by 64% in the past five years.

Freedom of information requests by the Liberal Democrats found that 85% of councils were switching off or dimming their street lights.

Campaigners also blame it for more road deaths.

Plunging communities into darkness feels archaic and extreme, putting people living there are risk. Negligence to remember when it comes to the local elections.

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