Dear Annie: I am an elementary school teacher. This year I have two 7-year-old students with major behavior issues. Both of them have threatened to bring a gun to school and shoot me and their classmates. As shocking as it is to hear this from such young children, the response from the people in charge is worse.
I reported these threats multiple times, and nothing has been done. No one has even spoken to the boys about their behavior. I was told the kids are young and most likely don’t have access to guns. Yet these kids have older siblings who can obtain guns for them.
In light of current events, I take these threats seriously. I’ve spoken to the principal, vice principal, school social workers and the boys’ parents. They all tell me I need to “focus on the positive things the kids do.”
Am I crazy, or are they? What should I do? Quitting my job is not an option. – Worried Teacher
Dear Teacher: While it is not uncommon for young children to make such threats, they normally do not follow through. However, there is a slim possibility that one of these boys will bring a weapon to school and attempt to use it, especially if he hears news reports about other school shootings.
The bigger problem is the “major behavior issues.” We realize you are fearful, but an alarmed approach is not productive. Are these boys receiving any kind of ongoing counseling or assistance? Perhaps if you approach this as a way to help the children develop better coping skills, the school will address it more directly and effectively.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.