When I was in 6th grade, I had my first physical altercation with a classmate. We were both sent to the principal’s office, our parent’s were called, I was put on punishment, we both apologized and went on our way. When the fight was over, it was over. Unfortunately those days are over.
An argument that began at school, made it’s way to Facebook with threats, and ultimately lead to the death of three teens. As the teens sat in their car, a man approached them and fired 10 to 12 shots into the car at point-blank range. Joshua Soto, 14 and Javier Orlandi, 16 were pronounced dead within a half-hour. Dante Lugo, 14 died the next night. The alleged shooter is the 30-year old stepfather of the other teens involved in the argument.
I have no idea who started the argument or what it was about, but I am almost 100% sure someone saw the threatening posts on Facebook. As the rational adults (evidently the 30-year old stepfather was not,) it’s up to us to monitor our children’s social media activities and report inappropriate conversations. In this day and age we cannot take threats lightly or shrug them off as “kids being kids.”
Here are a few things we can do to keep our children safe on the Internet:
1. Don’t just browse, but thoroughly read through your child’s posts. Make a note of who they are speaking with and pay special attention to the tone of the conversation.
2. If you see a threatening or inappropriate posts that involves any child, ask your child about it and report it if necessary.
3. Encourage your child to tell you if they feel threatened at school or on the Internet, and bring it to the attention of the school, the other parents, or the authorities.
4. Work to make sure young men feel comfortable telling someone about threats made against them. I’ve heard grown men tell little boys to “man up,” but when it comes to threats they should understand that their stance has nothing to do with their manhood, but everything to do with saving their lives.
Let’s work together to keep our children safe on the Internet.
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