BY RYAN MERARD
In an era where there are more mass shootings in this nation than days passed this year, the nationwide phrase, “If you see something, say something” has more value than ever. It encourages students to speak up whenever they notice anything that seems suspicious and to report it to a trusted adult to keep themselves and their local community safe.
One of the latest threats to a Broward County public school was made on August 22. A student from Nova High School was arrested for threats made towards students in his school on Discord, a video game chat system. The anonymous student made remarks about pain he wanted to bring to his peers. Later, he said he wasn’t planning to do these horrific acts, but was just expressing how he felt at the moment.
Whether the student was serious about his comments or not, police still took action. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) and school security stress the importance of reporting suspicious activity as soon as it is seen, even if it seems like a joke.
“Joking with friends about committing horrific acts is just unacceptable at this point,” 11th Grade Assistant Principal Robert Herzog said. “Doing such things could possibly get people felonies, and there are countless examples in the media that prove that.”
“With mental health being a major part of today’s society, we have to at least attempt to check on [students] whenever they seem down and see how we can address the situation.”
Broward County has made efforts to assist in making this phrase more prevalent throughout the district. For example, in August 2018, BSO launched a free mobile app called “SaferWatch,” where students are able to anonymously send reports of suspicious activity. Students and teachers can also receive alerts for their school if anything concerning is brought up.
It is not just students that can abide by the phrase “If you see something, say something,” but teachers as well. With most having years of experience under their belts, teachers may be able to spot some signs that the average student can’t.
“As teachers, we have more responsibilities than just instructing our students,” physical education teacher Valarie Smith said. “With mental health being a major part of today’s society, we have to at least attempt to check on [students] whenever they seem down and see how we can address the situation.”
In communities across the nation, while people go about their day-to-day routines such as going to school or going grocery shopping, they can be on the lookout for signs of unusual activity. Putting this into practice may not prevent all terrible acts from happening but, according to Homeland Security, it would minimize the chances of tragedy and help keep communities safe.
“Honestly, if every school’s student body watched over each other and were more aware of their surroundings like we should be, school could become a safer place,” junior Zackary Elbaz said.
Photo by Anabella Garcia