Words have consequences: Inappropriate jokes can create fear, unease on large scale

From an early age children are taught that actions have consequences.

When they misbehave, they get in trouble. When they touch something hot, it burns.

But words have consequences, too.

In light of the recent local events following the school shooting in Florida, The Norseman staff felt it important to speak out on the power of words.

Causally making statements like “I’m going to kill myself” in passing has become an unfortunate norm that many people accept as a flippant remark. People say things like “I would shoot them” or “I would kill them” without thinking about the words they are really saying.

So it is no surprise that there have been copycat threats made throughout the Brazos Valley and the nation following the Feb. 14 tragedy.

For some reason, a kid in almost every school district has thought it would be funny to make a threat on their schools as a joke.

The thing is, it’s not funny. Not even a little bit.

A single statement capable of causing fear on a large scale is considered a terrorist threat and carries heavy consequences.

Even when “jokes” are made within a friend group that knows the person is just trying to be funny, other people can overhear the statement and run with it.

Before long, what was a poor choice of words between friends spirals onto social media where it become a rumor and continues to snowball and take on a life of its own.

At that point no one has control of what those words have become and every attempt to disarm the validity of the statement is met with more retweets, more snapchat posts, and more facebook conversations.

We look to our administrators, teachers, and SROs to keep us safe while we are at school – and they are doing a great job. But it is also our responsibility as students to be smart about what is said and done.

While our administrators worked swiftly and effectively to ease our fears a few weeks ago, they never should have been put in that situation in the first place.

Each member of the administration has a vested interest in the students at this school. Many of them have children of their own on our campus. And they will always do what is best for each one of us.

So when having silly conversations with friends or posting jokes online, remember that your words have power, and that you have no control over what others do with those words once they leave your mouth.

We all have a responsibility to ourselves and our classmates to foster a safe learning environment.