I don’t really know how to start my column this week, mostly because I feel like I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t have a child, especially not a teenager, and I don’t work in the school system. So I’ve not truly felt the immediate effects of the recent threats made by children in our county.
But I do have thoughts because it has really ramped up this month, with press releases, articles, worried phone calls and enough Facebook comments to fill a book. Everyone has something to say and someone to blame for all this chaos, but really no one knows who to blame.
What I don’t understand is how these threats have become a pattern. One empty threat a school year is relatively normal, but four in one month, not so much. I was a student when the high school experienced two bomb threats back to back, sending every student to the Civic Center, now known as the Milner Recreation Center.
I remember not being scared that day, just frustrated that I left my lunchbox in the school when we were escorted to the farthest reaches of the WCHS property. Fortunately for Warren County, these threats all had zero weight to them, or the problem was handled before it could escalate. But the bomb threat I experienced was written on a bathroom wall.
Some of the recent threats have been made online or on social media, and I think this should be a clear lesson on how to act on the internet. You may be joking online when making a threat, but nuance gets lost through text. That’s why people fight and argue on social media because they can’t physically see the person on the other side of the screen.
And I think this may have something to do with the threats. These students feel safe online because everything is normal on social media. They see adults fighting in the comments section, they see their family members making bold claims, and there are no consequences for people acting a fool, for lack of a better term, on social media.
I mean, you can get blocked by the person you are arguing with but, for the most part, there are no serious consequences from what you post online besides people making threats or inciting violence. There are a number of reasons these children have made threats, whether they are seeking attention, truly threatening the schools, or maybe getting bullied and want out of the school.
Whatever the problem is, I think as adults, we should spend less time trying to find a scapegoat to point fingers at during times of panic, and we should start seeing how our own behavior could be influencing the children’s behavior. I’m not saying social media is the root of these threats, but I think it plays a big part because the students feel emboldened enough to make threats there.
If we spent less time being miserable online, maybe the children wouldn’t feel the need to do the same. I am included in that because I have been caught up in online arguments, and it solved nothing. Kids learn from actions more than words, so make sure who you are offline is the same person online.
Standard reporter Taylor Moore can be reached at (931) 473-2191.