Worried About School Violence
Q. There was a school shooting not far from me. Two weeks ago, a threat showed up on a bathroom stall at our school. It might be a prank, but I'm scared to death. Why would people do these things?
A. What you are experiencing is horrible and I'm sorry our world is moving in this direction. What was found at your school is probably a prank. In areas where there have been school shootings, there tend to be a lot of copycat pranks in a wide radius around that tragedy for weeks or months afterward. Sadly, this may be becoming a very common type of prank. But whatever the case, this is a scary situation and your fear is justified. We definitely live in a fallen world.
Most threats found on bathroom walls are from someone who thinks he or she is being funny or is trying to get the school closed for a day off. Nevertheless, all threats must be taken seriously. If you ever see or hear of something like a threat, don't shrug it off or worry about looking silly for being worried about it. Talk to the authorities. Tell them exactly what you've heard or seen. At the least, being caught will probably stop a prankster from doing something like this again. And if the threat is real—and we never know—it just might stop a true tragedy. In other words, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Now for the good news: School violence may be up, but millions of students attend school everyday in safe environments. My advice is to think this issue through very logically and at the same time, keep your eyes and ears open to danger. Pray for God's presence in your life and for his protection. I suggest praying Psalm 23:4: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (NIV). Here are some other verses to study: Psalm 27:1-3, Isaiah 35:3-4, Isaiah 43:1, and Hebrews 2:4-16.
Jim is an author, longtime youth worker and founder of HomeWord, a group seeking to honor God through strong families.
Copyright © 2009 by the author or Christianity Today/Ignite Your Faith magazine.
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