Adults rarely like it when children talk back, let alone school them. That’s exactly what nine-year-old Hilde Kate Lysiak did when she scooped major news sources who were beaten to the scene by this young dynamo and her newspaper, Orange Street News.
Hilde’s critics have suggested that she should be having tea parties rather than writing about gruesome topics like murders. The reporter responded when she received a tip from a reliable source and then called the police department to confirm the crime. From there, she visited the crime scene and interviewed the surrounding neighbors. Hilde was there doing the hard work, fact checking, and making sure that the community was informed.
Some critics called Lysiak’s work “trash,” and suggested that the work should be “kept to professionals.”
That’s when this young journalist got real in an essay with The Guardian.
“My parents and I have also been warned that covering this story meant my reporting was no longer “cute.” I don’t think people should be able to decide for me who I should be and what I should be doing. I never began my newspaper so that people would think I was cute. I started the Orange Street News to give people the information they need to know.”
The real-life Lisa Simpson advocates for the rights of children to learn, express themselves, and be given the space and respect to be taken seriously.
“I want to be taken seriously. I’m sure other kids do, too. Grownups usually treat kids like they cannot do anything great. If adults don’t think we can do something, then it is hard for us to believe that we can. And then how will we have great things in this world?”
Hilde further explains, “Kids should know that if they work hard, they can do amazing things. One time, I heard there was a robbery on my street. My source told me the robber tried to pop the window screen out. I found a house with a screen missing and spent a couple days knocking on the door. When the owner finally answered, it was the wrong house. (At least, they became subscribers!) So I knocked on every other door of the block until I found the right one and was able to get my interview. Kids should know how amazing I felt when I finally got that story. It was like Christmas morning!”
You might think that this is an act of sexism. Hilde doesn’t dismiss it, but she examines it further, “Some people have asked me if I thought people would have reacted differently if I were a boy. Maybe, maybe not. I could see them saying a boy should go and play with racing cars instead of how they told me to play with dolls. Or maybe they wouldn’t have said much at all. The thing is, I like playing with dolls, and having tea parties. I also think racing cars are really cool! Grownups shouldn’t assume that a kid – boy or girl – should be doing just one thing or another. Kids can do exceptional things and still be kids!”
Hilde illustrates how effective discussions about boundaries and consent can be when introduced to include all aspects of life and done so at a young age.
“To everyone who has supported me (and there have been many): a huge thank you! To those of you who would rather I stay home and be playing tea parties, I say this:
Yes, I am a nine-year-old girl.
But I’m a reporter, first.
I report the news.
And so long as there is news to report in Selinsgrove, I’m going to continue trying my best to give the people the facts.
And for those of you who think I need to mind my place, I’ll make you a deal. You get off your computer and do something to stop all the crime going on in my town, and I’ll stop reporting on it.
Until then, I’m going to keep doing my job.”
… mic. drop.
h/t: The Guardian