Families must teach risk of student threats

Another week and another apparent threat at a school in our region, interrupting the educational process. It isn’t a problem exclusive to our part of the country by any stretch. On the contrary, it happens consistently from coast to coast and in communities small and large. Nor is the problem new. For generations, students here and there have made a threat toward classmates, teachers or in reference to the school itself.

What has changed is that an uncommon number of threats made have turned into action. That means that a threat made today is taken far, far more serious than years in the past. School personnel have no choice but to take any threat seriously, however vague or voiced only through social media.

In today’s environment, even the seemingly least-likely threat, anything that could be interpreted as menacing has to be taken seriously.

That’s where parents and family have some responsibility. Teens tend to react emotionally and employ hyperbole. Banter once considered kids stuff today can lead to serious problems. Teens need to be made aware that an off the cuff remark, the use of violent images or social media postings are going to get attention – and not necessarily the kind of attention they want. Only a parent, guardian or other close family member or mentor is positioned to teach young people the importance of not provoking response via even the most mild comments that could be construed as threatening. Furthermore, the same adult role models need to emphasize that the risk of school violence is also nothing about which to joke.

Most threats that come to the attention of school officials thankfully aren’t going to manifest in violence. However, at this point in time, every perceived threat is going to be responded to as if entirely viable. There is no choice.

Families bear some responsibility to educate and sensitize young people to the perils of making any threat related to schools, even the most innocuous threat.