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October 16, 2017 · OPINION

Liberty High threats should provide a wakeup call

Assistant Superintendent Frank Finn addresses the audience at an Oct. 9 forum with school and law enforcement officials about the online threats involving Liberty High School students.
By John Green
Bealeton

On Monday, Oct. 2, the sheriff’s office was notified of chatroom threats by Liberty High School students against a fellow student. The chatroom group discussed “planning a murder,” and the fellow student “had only one month to live.” This was not a copy-cat threat. It was made before the Las Vegas tragedy. By Thursday, Oct. 5, the authorities announced no criminal charges would be filed. Case closed.

This threat took place in a private chatroom on an app called “Discard.” The name of the chatroom was “operation-will-to-kill.” It came to light when one of the chatroom students shared screenshots of plan with the threatened student. According to the participant student, his purpose was not to threaten or intimidate the student but rather to inform him of what others were saying behind his back. He chose his words well.

There were six students involved in the chatroom, ages 16 and 17. The sheriff office and the commonwealth’s attorney determined no laws were broken, so no charges filed. Fauquier County Public Schools officials said they cannot announce what, if any, punishment would be involved. The only infraction was the violation of a school-wide paper they signed saying they would not bully. But that can’t be, because the authorities said no one was directly threatened. These kids will skate free. In less than a week, this serious matter was closed with no known action taken.

We should be thankful no one was hurt physically, but what kind of message are we sending? Are we capable of protecting society, or is the individual more important? Are we embarrassed about what happened in our town and just want to forget it?

Consider the following: The Pride Survey 2015 is a mental health collaborative, sponsored by CADRE, the Mental Health Association of Fauquier County and the public school system. It describes the problems we have with mental health, drugs and alcohol abuse. The numbers should scare you.

> PRIDE Survey report at bottom of letter

We know heroin and opioids use are at epidemic levels. The Pride Survey describes the mental health problem. HIV is still a problem. Fauquier County led the region with 17 new HIV cases since 2011. I don’t think this was ever publicly reported in Fauquier.

Our students are being bombarded by all sorts of change Our long held values and beliefs are constantly under attack. Consider views on LGBT issues, gay marriage, drugs, gender uncertainty, diversity, social equality, abortion, the right to die. The list goes on and uncertainty rules. Our young students are caught in the middle.

At the same, time our officials and leaders go on as if nothing is happening, as if everything is OK. Everything is not OK. We have serious problem and that must be solved. We must wake up and start facing our problems. If nothing else let the LHS incident be a wakeup call for all of us. Find out what’s going on and get to work.

2015 Pride Survey by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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