Take your pick... Knives, Bombs or Swine Flu! It's been a heck of a week for Montgomery County High Schools!
First, on Monday, one kid at Sherwood decided to deep-six the rest of his high school experience by bringing a knife to school and taking a slice out of another kid. The victim will recover. The suspect - I hear he's already 19 - faces expulsion, but I think that's the least of his worries. He's going to go to prison!
That incident put the rest of the school on lockdown for the rest of the day. My oldest son, Brad, didn't mind that at all, because he was stuck in web design class. He got to goof off on the internet for a couple of hours!
On Tuesday, my alma mater, Springbrook, had a much more serious scare. Two students were rounded up, suspected of setting a couple of small fires at the school... On further review, police uncovered a plot to kill the principal and maim a school counselor, and to start a fire by breaking a gas line in the school auditorium. It was the most Columbine-esque threat we've had in the area in quite some time.
Finally, late last night, the county made a decision to close Rockville High School until further notice, because one of the students there has apparently come down with the swine flu. Mind you, this student has not been in school since Monday, and no one else has become ill. But it's Friday, and I guess the county figures if they have a long weekend to see if anyone else incubates, it won't be so bad.
I personally think this whole swine flu thing is another embarrassing moment for the media, which is overreacting in the extreme, and leading the public to believe the threat is much much greater than it obviously is. At least in the United States, even the people who have gotten sick HAVEN'T gotten THAT sick!
I also blame the public. Somehow - and I'm not quite sure when or how it happened to this degree - people have become totally drawn into a pack mentality. It's almost like people don't have minds of their own any more. Laugh if you will, but the same thing that has people blindly panicking over swine flu is responsible for making Susan Boyle a youtube sensation. It's almost like people don't have the time or the will to make their own discriminating decisions.
The swine flu will pass... as did SARS... as did the bird flu... And the chances that any of you will end up with it are minuscule, so please - grow a pair!
As for the violence, I personally find that to be much scarier. Not the knife incident, per se. The act of kids bringing knives to school is hardly a new phenomenon. I certainly don't condone it either, but pragmatically speaking, teenagers have been doing stupid things for as long as there have been teenagers, so don't expect society to fix the problem any time soon.
As for the threats at Springbrook. That's pretty scary stuff, isn't it? I've had some conversations with some of my fellow alums on Facebook, and most of them say things like, "We were so innocent", or "That never could have happened when we were there". I kinda disagree. I do think kids today are affected by their surroundings. We didn't have violent video games or cable TV or gangsta' rap back in the day. We didn't have the internet or chat rooms or the exposure to the kind of poison that our children today have.
But we did have bad apples. I knew a few kids from grade school all the way through high school who were bad eggs all the way through. We also had kids with "special needs", but we didn't have that label back then. If those same bad kids of my youth had been raised today, they certainly would have been capable to the kind of violence that was plotted at Springbrook.
At least that's what I think. I personally believe we ALL go through life in a constant state of denial. It's an effective coping mechanism, because if we didn't have denial, we'd all have to face the fact that what we've built as our lives could all end without notice. Wiped out by a car wreck. A massacre. A tornado.
Hell - even swine flu.