Hell Yes, Parents Should Keep Kids Home When Their School Is Threatened With Beheadings

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family watching tvPolice in Johnston, Rhode Island, received a letter yesterday threatening elementary schools in three school districts: Johnston, Cranston, and Warwick. Today, and for the next two days, school will remain open in the three districts, leaving parents to struggle with whether or not to send their kids to school while there is a threat against them. I say, pop some popcorn and settle down on the couch for a long day of Transformers.

Police have not shared any specifics about the letter but according to, “Colonel Steven McCartney from Warwick confirmed that letter mentioned ‘beheading’ in a threatening manner.” Which is unfortunate, because I much prefer letters that mention beheading in an unthreatening manner. Like, “I beheading your way tomorrow, want me to get you a coffee?”

Schools in the three cities have bumped up security through the end of the week (the threat was made for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday): each school will have police officers on-site, gym and recess will be held indoors, all doors will be locked throughout the day, and social workers will be available for anxious kids. McCartney stated that school might be the safest place for kids to be for the next few days. Despite that, attendance was down by approximately one-third today.

You know why? Because holy shit beheading threat. That’s why.

I am not a panicky parent. I haven’t contacted my children’s Seattle elementary school to make sure they have a plan in place for Ebola. I haven’t requested that they hire armed security guards to wander the halls. I understand that there are risks, but I choose not to freak out about things unless I have a reason to. That said, someone sending a threatening letter to the school would be more than enough reason for me to keep my kids home. Guess we’ll just have to make up that spelling quiz next week. You know, after the beheading threat is over.

Is this a plausible threat? Unlikely. Someone who was actually planning on committing this assault probably wouldn’t send a letter to the police department giving them a heads-up about it. This is some idiot who wanted to have the power to cause entire cities to react to their words and create some drama in their small, pathetic life. I know all of that. But I will be rational and reasonable while watching My Little Pony at home with my babies.

There are good arguments going the other way, as to why someone should send their kid to school anyway. Between the increased safety measures and the police presence, I’m pretty sure no one is even going to forget to bring a hall pass when going to the bathroom. It also sends a statement that we are not going to allow these kinds of threats to interrupt our lives and scare us. We refuse to give them the power they so desperately crave.

That is all great. But for the next three days, I would let the terrorists win. Because it’s not me walking into that school, it’s my children, and I’m not going to use them to make a political statement. Let’s be clear: I’m not saying that that is what the parents who are sending their kids to school in Rhode Island are doing — not at all. I’m just giving you my reaction to the kind of arguments I made above.

If this was a threat against someone’s work place, then I think you can make whatever kind of statement you want. But we’re talking about elementary school kids. Kids who are going to be terrified to see armed police officers at their school. Kids who may very well be aware of the threat and scared to death to be there.

They have lock-down drills at my kids school. During these drills, they turn off the classroom lights, lock the door, pulls the shades, and have the kids hide and be as quiet as possible. Just thinking about it makes me start crying. My children are six-years-old, so they don’t know about Sandy Hook or any kind of threats that people make against schools. But somehow they know, in that way that children do, that this is a scary situation. My son came home one day and said they had a lock down drill. Then he said, “I hate those drills. They scare me.” I asked him why, and he said, “I don’t know.” We just left it there, because what am I supposed to tell him? He doesn’t need to know why yet. But he does need to know that if I have the opportunity to make him even a little bit safer, I am sure as hell going to do it.

It’s important to note, however, that I can make these big statements about my kids safety because I have the luxury of being able to choose whether or not to keep them at home. Many parents don’t. For example, parents who can’t take three days off of work can’t make that choice. Neither can many single parents. Those folks have to cross their fingers and put their kids on the bus anyway, and that fucking sucks. So for the record, Seattle, you can drop off your kids at my house that day. We’ll run and play and not get murdered all day long.

(Photo: Auremar / Shutterstock)