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home : opinion : columnist September 15, 2019

8/15/2019 7:52:00 AM
Threats Of School Violence Serious Crime
(Left & Right) Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and Lincoln County Schools conduct a reunification drill at West Lincoln Middle School in April 2019. (Lincoln Herald File Photos)(Middle) FBI Guidelines For School Violence Prevention
(Left & Right) Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and Lincoln County Schools conduct a reunification drill at West Lincoln Middle School in April 2019. (Lincoln Herald File Photos)

(Middle) FBI Guidelines For School Violence Prevention

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

With school violence incidents in mind, schools have had to make security a primary concern.  Memories of the violence in Columbine (Colorado), now 20 years ago; Newtown, Connecticut--in 2012; Parkland, Florida in February 2018; and most recently, at UNC-Charlotte in April have made it so.

While drills have been conducted by the schools and law enforcement, while a variety of security measures have been put in place, there is no guarantee that a similar incident to one of these won't happen here.  

There are, of course, false alarms.  Fake and idle threats often cause concern and occasionally end up costing time that should be spent on other law enforcement needs and education to be diverted.

It didn't take long for one of those idle threats to surface this year.  Schools in the Iredell County-Statesville school system opened last Thursday; and on Monday of this week (Aug. 12th) a juvenile was charged after talking about bringing a gun to school and threatening violene during the previous week. The student allegedly told others not to come to school on Monday.  The student had a history of repeated similar threats.

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At the Lincoln Herald, we have a policy of not reporting any such threats too soon. Last year, a student was shot at Butler High School in Mecklenburg County. Thanks to panicked calls from other students to their parents and 'we must get there first' coverage from television stations, a state of mass confusion, a big traffic jam, and hours of uncertainty followed as parents rushed to the school to get their children. If and when we have an actual incident, what we don't need is panic, tv helicopters flying overhead, and misinformation being spread by cell phone calls and social media. The police and school personnel have been trained and drills involving students are held to avoid just such confusion.

We also don't report the names of persons charged with making real or fake threats because we believe that some of them are actually anxious for the notoriety it brings.

What's important is for parents and students to remember that panic never helps and that the training that has been and continues to be done offers the best chance to avoid or end a bad situation. It's also important that parents emphasize to their children that making a threat is a serious crime--a felony.

It is our sincere hope that we won't be reporting on any incidents of violence or threats in local schools this year. For everyone, the adage 'think before you act' is very good advice.

You may
 have noticed an editorial difference between the Lincoln Herald and area newspapers.  Rather than share opinions published by other newspapers across the state or around the country, we are never shy about expressing our opinions.  We also welcome the opinions of our readers from our service area (Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston and Cleveland counties) and gladly publish letters to the editor and guest columns on current issues.  We consider it an important part of providing the best local coverage to our readers.

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