Discussing the Seriousness of School Threats with Your Child

It seems every morning when you turn on the news you see the same story—children are arrested for making false school threats.

This morning, some kid posted a vague school threat on Instagram along with pictures of guns. After an investigation, it turns out the kid was joking and he had zero access to any weapons.

It doesn’t matter.

That 14-year-old child has been arrested.

teenage boy in handcuffs

And here’s the thing, since he was charged with a felony, his name is in the police report. Therefore, local news media can report his name. Forevermore, that means any google search until eternity showcases exactly what he did. Future employers will see it—so will family, friends, and potential girlfriends.

This happens ALL THE TIME.

I have a 12-year-old son. He’s a GREAT kid. He’s smart, funny, cute and he can be a goofball.

But he also has the maturity of a 12-YEAR-OLD KID!

Sadly, I could see him making some stupid, silly, thoughtless remark just to show-off for his friends.

I have told him one million times that talking about weapons or threats or anything that can be misconstrued as a school threat could get him in massive trouble.

Every time we see one of these stories on the news, I point it out and say, very bluntly, “Well, that child’s life is ruined.”

I want to believe he understands the seriousness of it. It is not a joke. You cannot make a remark or a threat like that in the world we live in.

Today, these school threats are sent over social media. That just helps it live forever.

I mean, I get it. These are kids. They have hormones raging and no sense of how to control their emotions. Kids have bad days at school and they think they’ll get attention by making some crazy posts on Instagram or Snapchat.

As a result, they get attention alright.

The worst kind of attention.

Deputies and School Resource Officers must take every single school threat, whether verbal or written, very seriously. Think about the manpower that wastes…. And the panic that it can cause. Imagine being a parent and hearing there’s a threat at your child’s school. Yeah, you’re going to freak out. You may even keep your child home for a day.

All because some kid made a stupid, thoughtless post.

I encourage every parent that reads this to sit their child down tonight, turn off the television, take the phone away for a couple of minutes, and have a true heart-to-heart.

Explain the seriousness of making these school threats. Explain that it is not a joke and that it can, and will, follow them for the rest of their life.

Spell it out for them, they will not be able to return to that school, they will cause huge embarrassment to them and their family, they will get arrested, they could go to jail.

And, if you have any fear that your child is not mature enough to understand these consequences, make sure they don’t have access to social media.

My son sure doesn’t.

Laura likes to run. She uses it as an excuse to escape her 12, 7 and 5-year-old kids. Cameron, Audrey, and Lexi are amazing but exhausting. Fortunately, Laura’s partner in crime, Craig is pretty amazing himself. They’ve been married too many years to count and moved to Riverview when it was still cows in pastures. Laura worked for 18 years in television news, most recently as Executive Producer of Fox 13’s Good Day Tampa Bay, before taking the leap to the Hillsborough County School District where she works in Communications. Laura’s pet peeves include the use of “lol” and people who wear Crocs.