It has to stop


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On Monday, February 13, there was a mass shooting on the campus of MSU

In 2022, there were 51 school shooting incidents in America. As of Jan. 24, 2023, there were six. Imagine how many times someone has joked about shooting up a school. If it actually happened 51 times last year and has happened six times already this year, there have definitely been countless incidents when someone made a joke about it.

Michigan uses OK2SAY in situations where someone thinks something bad is happening or going to happen at a school. OK2SAY is a website where you can submit a supposedly anonymous tip about something that is worrying you about school: threats, arms possession, drug or alcohol possession, etc. Except, when you submit a tip to OK2SAY, you are required to submit an email address in order to have the tip go through. That is not anonymous.

All across the country, schools have assemblies telling students, “If you see something, say something.” They have assemblies telling students not to make jokes about school shootings or not to make jokes about threatening the school in any way. Students don’t listen.

It has to stop

There are countless times when a student makes a joke about shooting up a school or bringing a bomb to school. Teenagers struggle to think before they speak, so they say whatever pops into their heads. They make jokes about things that shouldn’t be joked about.

It’s not funny. It’s not funny to make a joke about a school shooting. It’s not funny to joke about threatening the school. People overhear, and they get scared. People don’t want to go to school scared because of a joke someone made. It’s not funny.

Also, it’s not like it’s unheard of. People make jokes and then say, “I would never do that. It would never happen.” It does happen. Last night, it happened. Last night there was an active shooter on the campus of Michigan State University, only 61 miles away from Grand Rapids. Last night, it wasn’t just someone making a joke.

When someone makes a joke about shooting up the school, people take it as not a joke. Staff is required to take it as a serious threat, whether it’s meant to be a joke or not. They take it to mean that something similar to what happened at MSU is going to happen. They worry about their safety and that of others. They worry about the trauma that will inevitably come out of being in that situation.

They tell authority figures, who then look into the backgrounds of people, talk to them, and have to convince students and staff that it was just a joke. When someone makes a threatening joke, it is not always perceived as a joke.

Even if it is, it’s not funny. It’s not funny to joke about something that takes thousands of lives. It’s not funny to joke about something that causes so many others to have trauma for years and years. It’s not funny.

It has to stop. The jokes have to stop, and the shootings have to stop. It’s ridiculous that children are fearing for their lives while in a place where they should feel nothing but safe. It’s insane that we are scared to go to school or public events for fear of our lives. It’s ridiculous.

It has to stop.