Ordinarily, I’m not particularly fond of kids telling on each other. At home, my children know that the way to deal with annoying behavior is to ignore it or take it to the annoying sibling. In my class, tattling goes unacknowledged. “Ms. Janice, Sara said a potty word,” will get a “How are you doing on those word problems?” from me.
That said, I’m overjoyed that students at Metea Valley High School may have helped avert a shooting at the school last week by reporting rumors to the police and school administrators.
Since my son started high school, my worst nightmare has been exactly the “Columbine-style” shooting a student at the school seemed to be planning. I’ll admit to being more anxious for my childrens’ safety than might be completely rational but there can’t be a parent who wasn’t sickened by how close this hit to home.
My son was close enough to the incident to raise my blood pressure, but wasn’t directly involved. I asked what he would have done if he’d heard rumors about a shooting. “Geez, Mom,” he said. “The guy’s planning to shoot people!? Of course, I’m going to tell the police.” I asked if his reaction would be the same if it were a close friend. He assured me it would.
Reporting a planned shooting is probably a no-brainer, but what if the danger were less dramatic, I wondered. Children die from drug and alcohol overdoses every year because friends were afraid to call police or paramedics. Whether they feared arrest or just parental ire, they didn’t make a call that would have saved a friend’s life.
As an adult, it seems ridiculous to me that a child would keep quiet while a friend died. I try to remember what it was like for me as a high school student. I attended parties where far too much alcohol was consumed and street drugs were readily available. I never told an adult. I like to think that I’d be the kid to make the call if one of my friends were overdosing. I’m grateful the situation never arose.
I’ll never know what I would have done, but I can try to help my son become one of the kids who calls. We’ve told him we’ll call the police or paramedics if he won’t or can’t do it in front of his friends. No questions; no reprisals. All he has to do is call or text. He’s strong-willed and independent and assures me peer pressure wouldn’t stop him. If his certainty is ever tested, though, I hope he’ll remember that it’s easier to live with angering a friend than it is to live with the knowledge he could have done something and didn’t.