Every school threat must be taken seriously

After last week’s massacre at a Parkland, Fla., school, it should be obvious that any potential threat expressed in regard to such an action has to be taken seriously.

A student in Belcourt learned that just this week. Beclourt police were called this week after a student at Turtle Mountain Community High School reported a “serious” comment made by another student, Belcourt Superintendent Lana DeCoteau said Wednesday. DeCoteau said classes started two hours late Wednesday at Belcourt schools because of the comment. She later said the situation had been resolved and students are not in any danger.

Bravo for the student who made the report and for DeCoteau’s swift actions.

But there is plenty of sadness to go around as well. It’s sad that any student would make any such comment. It’s sad that these days, such threats have to be taken seriously. It’s sad that these kinds of things have to interrupt learning. Welcome to our new reality. It started in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and it just seems that the parameters keep expanding into uncomfortable and/or scary places. But there is no retreat to our previous reality – a reality in which military level violence was overseas and students settled things with fisticuffs at the worst.

There is no going back.

Sadly, it’s absurd to think school shootings can be ended by politicians or by laws. In many ways, everything went right when it came to the Parkland shooter. He was reported as a threat to the FBI, which then completely failed in its responsibility. This is so scary, particularly in light of many people’s reactions to last week. One young girl speaking in the aftermath said that there is no reason for everyday citizens to own guns because the government is here to protect people.

How did the FBI do protecting those students last week? There’s government efficiency at about the average level of service delivery.

Understanding our new reality is important because part of that is dispelling the illusion that government can protect all of us, many of us, all the time, or even now and then. Right now, every authority in the country knows that there will be 100-odd shootings this weekend in south Chicago. It’s going to happen. Government can’t prevent that from happening. Parkland is considerably safer than south Chicago.

So when a student makes a threat, in person to a classmate or via social media? There is no choice but to assume the individual is a threat, intervention is necessary. Given last week’s incident, it might just fall largely on school administration and local authorities to be student’s line of defense.

And that means vigilance.