Significant, not silly
For most, starting a new school year is equally as exciting as it is scary. We look forward to the freedom and independence of high school, but at the same time worry about navigating the halls, managing an intimidating homework load and making new friends.
But for students this year, beginning high school has been a different kind of scary. The first two months of the school year have been marred by car break-ins, a bomb threat, a lockdown and a shooting scare. To many, the events of the past month have become a joke or an excuse to skip school, stay in bed or spend time with friends. Though for students new to Redwood, this is the first and lasting impression of our school that they will carry into the next four years and beyond.
These occurrences at our school have been shocking and fear-inducing for many students. However, others laughed about wanting there to be more of such scares to force school cancellation or that the people responsible for the threats were students trying to pull a prank or get out a test. But these events aren’t humourous and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Through social media and rumors, we are sensationalizing the threats—perhaps for temporary benefits, such as getting a day off of school—while with each time, we are taking their significance less seriously. Even in the midst of the bomb threat, some risked the safety of all by breaking lockdown protocol and jumping the fence of the football field to leave the evacuation site.
We can’t let ourselves become desensitized to these threats because although, thankfully, they have turned out to be false alarms, the next one could be real.
Mass shootings and bombings are not unheard of in our country today. Just a little over a week after our own school shooting threat, 58 people died and 489 were injured in the horrifying Las Vegas massacre. In addition, school shootings are also becoming more commonless uncommon in this country. According to the National School Safety and Security Services, school shooting and bomb threats increased by 158 percent from 2014 to 2015. Furthermore, according to the FBI, shootings in schools and places of business represent 70 percent of all active mass shootings in 2013. There have been 242 school shootings in the U.S. since 2013, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit advocate on gun control.
By joking about wanting more scares to cause more school cancellations disrespects those affected by the greater issue of gun violence and those who have done so much to protect us. In acting immaturely regarding these threats, we fail to recognize how lucky we are that they weren’t real, because for the 59 people killed and 124 injured by school shootings in the past three years, they were real.
Additionally, the subsequent lockdown, school sweep and school cancellations following these threats placed an enormous strain on local law enforcement. On the day of the bomb threat, police officers, bomb dogs and firefighters from as far as Alameda County rushed to Redwood to ensure the safety of all students and staff. Because of the severity of the threat, our local Central Marin Police Authority coordinated a massive number of officers from different districts to properly address it, pulling them away from their usual duties. It’s important to remember that despite a certain nonchalance from students surrounding the threats, the administration and local police are forced to take them seriously.
Carefree behavior surrounding school security establishes a pattern of collectively neglecting the severity of both past tragedies and potential future incidents. It also reflects privileged behavior in our community because other schools, a few within the Bay Area, experience not only threats, but actually unsafe circumstances at school. There are places in which students and administrations must take safety precautions, such as metal detectors at the front doors, just to go to school. We are lucky to have dynamic administration and security that are committed both to the safety of both our community and our campus.
After both a bomb threat and a shooting threat, Redwood alum have posted on social media platforms such as Facebook voicing their concern surrounding the student’s behavior. They have expressed disbelief and confusion over the events happening, as this never was such a prevalent issue until this year. This is not the legacy at our school. Historically, this is not reflective of the prevailing school culture at Redwood. Despite the violence we witness around the world, the Redwood community should maintain a sense of unity. Together we should continue to respond with indignation not towards our administration or teachers or law enforcement, but towards the source of these threats to our safety and to our solidarity as a school.
This school year has had an undeniably turbulent start. The reputation of Redwood to students and others in our community is not merely characterized by these episodes, but also by how we respond to them. We need to re-establish the positive spirit of our school by changing the fearful and indifferent rhetoric that has defined our first two months.