Our Opinion: All threats must be taken seriously

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2021

On Monday morning, it came to light that Austin Public Schools and the Austin Police Department were alerted to a possible threat that came over social media.

While the school did not issue details as to the nature of the threat, the fact remains that Austin had a window into a serious threat that’s part of the world we live in.

In the end, it appears that threat was not intended to cause harm and was taken out of context.

In short, nothing has came of it and not only are we thankful for this, but we thank the school district, APD, students and parents for how fast the situation was resolved.

It probably involved some fear, but in the end everything turned out alright, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case.

Sadly, since the mass shooting of Columbine in 1999, the reality of school shootings has been front and center in our day-to-day lives. Not that there were no shootings prior to that, but the advent of 24-hour news brought this reality to American households in real time.

Since then, school shootings seem to always float in the background, only to come harshly to the forefront every time another spate of violence takes place — most recently at Oxford High School in Michigan, where four teens tragically lost their lives.

However, we have to recognize that for a relatively short period of time on Monday, fear and uncertainty held sway.

That is because with each threat comes a valley of the unknown where social media inherently creates voids of gray. What does the message actually mean? What is the intent of the poster? Where do we go from here?

A threat is tweeted or messaged through social media and we just don’t know at that moment what is a serious threat and what isn’t. All we know is that each threat, no matter the outcome, must be taken seriously.

Again, thankfully, nothing came of Monday’s threat, but the seriousness brought on by this incident reminds us that if we see something out of the ordinary we should report it to either school officials or law enforcement immediately.

This can be a parent who sees the warning signs on their child’s own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media account or the child comes to them directly.

As a student, this comes at that moment when a friend or peer says something that raises red flags or even simply confides something in you that doesn’t sit right. Or, perhaps its just recognizing that you, yourself, need help. If that’s the case please talk with someone.

School should be a safe place of learning and sharing memories. Only by watching out for each other can we be sure that our schools stay as safe as we can possibly make it.