The short answer is no, but before we get to that, I wanted to tell a couple of stories from my youth.
Every kid wants to be famous. Growing up in the late 70s/early 80s, my friends and I thought there was only one way to get famous quickly, The Guinness Book of World Records. We would come up with ridiculous ways of trying to get into the prestigious book, which would mostly consist of how long we could keep a ball or balloon in the air without having it touch the ground. Suffice to say, we never broke any world records.
The other story I wanted to tell is completely unrelated to the first one, but bear with me. I was 25 in the mid-90s, and I was dating a ‘country girl’ to put it politely. (She was a full-blown racist, but that’s another story for another time.) Her mother, who was also ‘country’, warned us about a rumor she heard. She told us not to flash our high beams at any car that has their high beams on. If we did, we would be hunted down by gangs who were using the high beams to find victims for their gang initiations. Yes, because West Hooterville, New Jersey is well-known for its gang problem. This rumor spread so far in the area that the newspaper, which covered most of South Jersey, had to publish an article letting people know that this was just an urban legend.
The reason I told these two stories is that they both have something in common with a phenomenon that happened last week. Hundreds if not thousands of schools across the country either closed this past Friday or beefed up security. Supposedly, there was a challenge on TikTok where kids were supposed to call in school shooting threats to their school on the 17th. Except, there was actually no such challenge on TikTok. No one is quite exactly sure how this rumor started, but rather than being contained to a few counties like it would have been in the early 90s, it spread like wildfire across the nation.
Even though it was just a rumor, it didn’t stop kids from calling in threats anyway. This past Friday, police departments all over the country had their hands full picking up kids who were making these false threats. Thankfully, none of the threats sparked by the rumor were considered credible. However, it doesn’t help that there has already been a deluge of copycat threats in the wake of the school shooting at Oxford High School.
Schools are in a no-win situation when it comes to these threats. The vast majority of threats are usually unfounded. But no one wants to be that school that allowed a shooting to happen after a threat had been called in.
Where schools were still open, many parents kept their kids home this past Friday.
My point being that kids have many more venues for trying to obtain fame than previous generations, and they don’t have to break world records to get it. Unfortunately, many of them are not above calling in a school shooting threat to try to get that viral fame. Maybe it’s because I’m old, but I don’t understand why these kids think that there will be no repercussions for their actions. Saying it was just a joke or a TikTok thing isn’t a get out of jail free card.
When a phony school shooting threat is called in and the police get involved, that wastes thousands of dollars in resources that could be put to better use in the community. The caller could also be charged with a felony that could haunt them for the rest of their lives. That’s not even taking into account the mental health of the students at these schools where threats are being called in.
Arresting these kids for the past 22 years obviously hasn’t changed anything. If anything, these phony threats have increased over time. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be arrested, but something else needs to be done to try to prevent them from being arrested in the first place. Unfortunately, I don’t know what that something else is.
I mean, we could do something about restricting the access of guns in our country, which in turn would lessen the impact of school shooting threats, but as has been shown time and time again, guns have more rights in this country than dying school students.
- HOW PANIC OVER RUMORED SCHOOL SHOOTING THREATS WENT VIRAL
- Amid alleged TikTok school shooting threats, here’s what we know about app’s response
- What is the school shooting TikTok threat?
- Parents urged to discuss consequences with children after TikTok challenge of potential act of violence at schools