TEXAS VIEW: Message to teenagers — don’t hit send; your ‘prank’ could be serious

By Longview News-Journal

Teenagers are not big readers of newspaper editorials, but if we could be granted a fervent wish, it would be that all of them read this one.

Its message is not complex or controversial. It is simply this: Don’t hit “send.”

We refer to modern technology to transmit a message that includes everything from emails and text messages to the many social media programs that reside on the cellphones carried by almost every teenager — or even much younger children.

Don’t hit “send” to threaten any individual, and don’t do it to suggest you are getting ready harm people at your school. Don’t even do it if you mean it as a prank and you are “sure” everyone will think is funny.

No one will think it is funny, least of all you when you find yourself arrested, in juvenile detention, then likely removed from that school forever.

It certainly will not amuse the police who, at the mere possibility of a threat against schools, must react quickly and in full force. Then they will have to unravel whether your threat is real or just the prank you intended.

While they do that, another matter or person won’t be getting the police attention they need.

It won’t be funny to school administrators, either, who, at the first sign of threat will have to find ways to contact parents of the other students. Of course the parents will not be amused, either.

It will not even be humorous to your fellow students, who might have to feel the terror of sitting in a dark classroom not knowing whether they will live or die until police determine your message was just a prank.

Most teenagers are sensible enough not to take these kinds of actions, either in reality or jest. But, unfortunately, it only takes a few to cause a tremendous problem.

As a testimony to this we would take you back to 2014, when a student at Pine Tree High School threatened a shooting spree in the school cafeteria. It was a credible threat as the student had the weapons to make it happen, but happily the police were there to make sure it never happened.

Though no one was hurt, that young man’s life path was dramatically changed that day. Would he have actually gone through with it? Was it really just a prank? We don’t know, but even the slightest threads of suspicion must be acted upon.

Ask the three Panola County students who were recently arrested about the consequences of their actions. As this is written, they are in juvenile detention and face having to find another school to attend when they are released.

If you want to play a prank, put toilet paper in their trees, give them some spicy gum or put a whoopee cushion where they sit.

But whatever you do, don’t hit “send.”