Black and white photo of a black woman with shoulder length hair, black rimmed glasses, a leopard print top and a necklace

On January 23, 2018 in Kentucky a 15-year-old male student brought a handgun into Marshall County High School and killed two students and injured eighteen others. On Valentine’s Day a 19-year-old male student brought a AR-15 rifle to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and killed 17 students and teachers.  The next day in West Palm Beach a Port St. Lucie 14-year-old male brought two guns to school after making threats to “shoot up” the school. It’s reported that his mother insists the threat was a “joke.”

On February 19, five days later, a Florida Forest Hill High School 18-year-old student was charged with bringing a knife to school. He also had a gas mask and three days before had referred to the Las Vegas mass shooting to his classmates. On February 20, six days later, an Ohio Jackson Middle School seventh grader brought a gun to school and shot himself in the bathroom.

Since the recent Valentine’s Day massacre there have been reports that up to five people, adults and teenagers, have made threats to “shoot up” schools.  A female student used Snapchat to share a picture of her holding a gun with a captioned “I’m coming space coast watch out,” she said she thought it was “funny.” The judge didn’t think so. It’s reported that a girl as young as 11-years-old threatened to bring a gun to school and kill teachers and students. She too was arrested.  

Children shooting classmates is clearly not a new situation. Remember the Cleveland Elementary School shooting that occurred January 29, 1979 in San Diego, California? When 16-year-old Brenda Spencer, who lived across the street from the school, decided that since she “didn’t like Mondays” that she would “livens up the day” by shooting at her classmates, killing two adults and injuring eight children and a police officer. Her weapons of choice were a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic and a .22 caliber rifle. As of this writing she remains in prison.  

What can we do about the increase in students wanting to “shoot up” their classmates and teachers? One grandmother, the day before the Stoneman Douglas High School killings, reported her own grandson. She read his journal. Then she called authorities in Washington state to report that her grandson was planning to “walk into that class and blow all those f***ers away” per his words. In his journal he wrote “I’m learning from past shooters/bombers mistakes, so I don’t make the same ones.”

It wasn’t just talk either, this 18-year-old had the means to carry out the crime. He had military-style inert grenades and a Hi-Point 9mm carbine rifle.  

How many parents and guardians are willing to invade their children’s privacy to KNOW what they are thinking? When should you invade your child’s privacy? Should we be more aware of our child’s state of mind if they have a mental disability, have been bullied, expelled from school, or are faced with some trauma that has caused them pain? 

In today’s world there are so many ways to find out what our children are thinking, what they are doing and who they are doing it with, IF, we are willing to take a stand and sometimes, read that journal, check out their social media sites, know their passwords and keep up with the new Apps that are made to “fool” parents so that children can have access to sites they shouldn’t be on due to security and identity issues.  

It’s time to take written or verbal threats to harm others made by children and teens, and adults too, seriously. Stop making excuses for our children when we know that they are wrong and are breaking the law.  It is not just a “joke” to threaten to shoot up any building, it’s not just a “joke” to send threats to blow up any building. Face it, we are living in an era where social media, the internet and the news have made it possible for people to “learn from past mistakes” of people who have done just what they said they would do when they wrote it or shared it on their social media sites.  

We find ourselves as parents, now forced to make a decision that could possibly not only save our own child’s life but many other innocent people’s lives. Asking our children to follow the rule “If you see something, report something” is just not enough parents. By the time they “see something” it may be a weapon pointed directly at them or their classmates. By the time they “report something” it may be after they have stepped over the dead bodies of their classmates and teachers.  Is it time to start invading our children’s privacy? Decide, it could save a life.