While looking for something else on the web, I stumbled across an article from last week in one of the little local free newspapers that cover the region. It seems that one of the three Middle Schools in town had an incident last Monday where someone found some sort of note in a bathroom threatening mass killings. The school locked down the entire building and the police came in and searched every locker and every bag while students — who were not allowed to use cell phones or make calls home — were kept in whatever classroom they were in at the start of it all.
When parents started getting wind of this, many of them naturally went to the school, where they were greeted by police wielding assault rifles keeping everyone away. Some hours later, they were allowed to see their children.
The fact that this school was locked down and they brought in police to facilitate searches is one thing, but the remarkable thing to me is that the little local newspaper is the only place in print that seems to have covered it. A couple of the local tv stations did stories on it, but our regional newspaper did not cover it, our local NPR station did not cover it, and the School Department blog does not mention it. (I searched by the school’s name and went through the week’s news at each site and was unable to find any mention of the event.) The news sites that did cover it did so only when it was taking place, and I have been unable to find any follow up about what happened or what their investigation turned up. Was it a ‘prank’? Was there a real threat?
Have school lockdowns become so common that they are no longer newsworthy to the bigger news sources? I fear that we are moving towards a world where these sorts of things are just part of the common social fabric, not because inquiring minds want to know, but because these events directly impact the sense of community in those schools, and how much students can concentrate on their studies and learn in those environments. Students who attend a school where lockdowns are routine and unremarkable will necessarily learn to distrust their community. And what happens when our culture at large is filled with people who grew up with that sort of distrust?