Saturday, June 4, 2016

We Interept This Broadcast...

Normally my blog is family bits that every two years get printed for our family archives.  It's filled with the happy, the mundane of daily living and the reality of our family.  And today we're going to cover that, but without the pictures and with a little more solemnity.

Our world is changing.  I am aware of this and so although the first time a bomb threat occurred in a school, I am sure it was alarming, many ever years later, they are becoming somewhat run of the mill.  You see our school district, a small county school in the middle of Lancaster County - "Amish Country" south central Pennsylvania, hardly worth any mention has had these threats.  Mainly at the high school level and a few at the middle school level.  The first one was bizarre to me, but now they are an annoyance to my children and my schedule more than anything.  You see the instances of actual bombings in an elementary, middle or high school in the United States has actually been less than 10 - closer to 5ish, and so although that is 5 more than it should be, statistically quite small.

Well this year, a whole new phenomenon has taken place...the threat of a bomb in the elementary school.  Not just one, but four in the past month.  The first was shocking, astonishing even, but now honestly it has not only been a major aggravation, but a real eye opener as to the climate of our culture.  So why does it bare mentioning...well as PTO President, the response of parents has been very diverse, but equally intense.  Let me explain to you what I am seeing.

Bomb Threat 1 - shock, alarm, some fear, acknowledgement that child is probably unaware of the severity of the message and the associated repercussions

Bomb Threat 2 - shock, less alarm, general consensus of a copycat mentality, little children realizing that walking to another school to watch a movie can be fun, parental concern

Bomb Threat 3 - outrage, blame, fear, accountability, retribution

Bomb Threat 4 - utter chaos, emotional turmoil, polarization in every area

Now I am not an employee of the school, so all opinions expressed here are mine alone and representative of no one else.  That being said, I am in the school almost daily and consider the teachers not only cohorts of a sort, but personal friends.

So for every parent who is experiencing healthy emotions, thank you for your concern, worry, fear, annoyance, frustration - we (myself and others who spend the bulk of the day in and at the school) echo those feelings.  These events are not okay and we are not condoning the actions of the child(ren) at all.

That being said, those parents with hostility, anger and blame...I want you to know...that you take a hard and emotionally challenging situation and you make it worse.  Worse for the administration, for the teachers, for the volunteers, for the school children and for your children.  I have yet to see a single problem that was made better with the above emotions.

The administrators and teachers are doing their very best to put an end to this, they want these interruptions no more than you do and I guarantee even less.  They want to teach, they want to ignore the beauracratic nightmare of vetting these threats, they want to help the students who are performing these acts of threat and they want them to stop.

But the reality is is hard to predict and prevent the instances of crazy that are becoming more commonplace in our world.  It is often what provides them with the label of crazy that makes them so challenging to identify.  Logic can hardly be prescribed in these situations and intent is hard to gauge.  More importantly, every action to try and stymy the actions of threat can be circumscribed, because the adaptability of humans makes it hard to control another's behavior.

So your angry emails, your accusations, your call to action, (note: each parent has a different solution and call to action that conflicts with another parents) your placement of blame - none of it helps.  It creates an environment of chaos, fear and distrust.  It pits the parents against the school as if they are both not on the same side of this situation.

Truly try to remember that this is not what anyone would want, so even if the response to this situation is not what you would do, trust that the response is motivated by the same interests as your own.  And last, please know that any information regarding this matter is private as those involved are minors.  Legally the school cannot release the names of individuals and disciplinary action.  And hopefully, even if they could, they would not.  Because from what I have seen these children, all age 10 and under, would literally be publically tried and executed if allowed.  That has been intensity of the response of the public. 

I truly believe that these children are not angry individuals who pose a real threat.  Like I explained to my kids, the materials, the knowledge and the ability to carry out a real threat greatly reduces the risk to you as so few, if any, in our school have access, motivation and knowledge to carry out these threats.  Theirs is a crime of stupidity and underdeveloped brains.  So please remember that these children need your support, your ability to teach them and your initiative to educate them so they know better for the future.

PS - Even as PTO President, I am not privy to the information, and even if I were to hear things, I would never disclose it in these circumstances.  You see I have always told our kids we are building communities of penguins.  Protect those who need it in the center until they are at a place where they can stand on the outer edge and protect the others in the center.

Now with one week left in the school year, I only hope and pray that this won't occur again, not only this year, but ever.  And if it does, remember patience and forgiveness go a long way to make the world a better place!

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