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Let’s keep fear out of schools

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This editorial first appeared in the (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star.

 

The grief and shock from last week’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., is shared in the collective American conscience. The feelings of sadness, disbelief, helplessness, even rage, are more than any human being should ever have to endure.

But while people try to come to grips with yet another massacre of unimaginable proportions, communities all over the country, including several in Indiana and the Wabash Valley, have been confronted with a barrage of social media threats aimed at schools.

It’s a maddening phenomenon that further taxes law enforcement and school resources and stirs already strained emotions.

In this state alone, the number of threats has exceeded a dozen. Arrests have been made, including that of a 12-year-old girl for issuing threats against Dugger-Union schools via the popular social media platform Snapchat.

Sullivan County authorities were able to investigate and quickly determine the source and apprehend the suspect. Similar actions have been duplicated in far-flung locales around the state.

Perry County had its own scare Thursday with a bomb threat made at Perry Central Community School.

Many of the threats are anonymous and untraceable, and most will be deemed hoaxes or products of mischief in the wake of last week’s tragic episode. It is maddening that thousands of people are affected in frightening ways by those who find satisfaction in creating more fear, disruption and chaos.

Communities all across America are in uncharted territory as they attempt to regain their sense of safety and security amid these constant threats.

We commend law-enforcement officials, school administrators, teachers, parents, students and observant citizens for acting quickly and rationally in the face of these threats. They must be taken seriously. No community wants to be the site for the next mass shooting.

But it’s also important to keep in mind that social media, with all its benefits of community building and content sharing, can be a haven for those whose sole purpose is to disrupt and sow discord.