The Young Human Factory was closed yesterday for “mental health.” My dear readers, some of you may have heard about a teenager killing four schoolmates and gravely wounding others at Oxford High School in Michigan.
What you may not have heard was that throughout the region, schools have been inundated with threats. These hoaxes are done for various reasons. Social media is the typical source, but the “grapevine” of gossip works, too.
The Young Human Factory is no exception.
Early in November, a rumor started that a suspended student was returning to kill classmates on a particular day. It was insane. To give one example, one young human misrepresented the student’s situation. After I explained the reality, she nodded dutifully and continued to repeat the lie.
Various rumormongers convinced about 25% of their classmates to stay home on the rumored day, just in case. Some parents, when they called to excuse their children from school, verbally abused the staff and accused them of HIDING THE TRUTH. It didn’t matter that law enforcement investigated and found no evidence that any threats had been made.
Last week, some Young Humans reported a classmate with a knife. Administrators acted quickly to disarm the student, and a police investigation commenced.
The Oxford High School shooting occurred Tuesday. Words can’t express the nightmarish feeling.
Wednesday was the return of masks and social distancing at The Factory, which added to our young human’s anxiety. Before lunch, there was a Factory-wide announcement of a Code Yellow (meaning: business-as-usual inside, but doors were locked while the perimeter was searched). The reason? A similarly-named school was mentioned in a social media threat. During the brief lockdown, some students tried to leave – even verbally abusing the staff who wouldn’t open the doors – and generally panicked.
If you’d told me a month ago that “mental health day” was a screwball idea, I’d have agreed. But the sense of danger has been like a low-frequency sound running below the everyday music and messages. Adults can rationalize that the odds are against it coming to fruition. The young humans? They have better imaginations and greater flight response than the old geezers. They definitely needed time to regroup.
The question now is what can be done not only to prevent school attacks, but to nip the terrifying rumors in the bud. As the sheriff in charge of the Oxford investigation pointed out, kids send a lot of the threats. For some, it’s amusing to see the adults taking it seriously and scrambling to investigate. For others, the goal is a day off school.
Part of the answer came Thursday evening, when police announced the arrest of a13-year-old in Waterford (about 60 miles as the crow flies). He had posted threats to a middle school there. He will be charged with a 20-year felony.