Teacher Rattled by Violent Threat Response

Yesterday, Annie’s Mailbox printed a question posed by a teacher of two seven year old students with “major behavioral issues.”  Both students have threatened to kill her with a gun.  The teacher has gone to her principal and vice principal but no one has spoken to the boys about their behavior.

The link to this disturbing piece can be found at the bottom of this article.  Though I am a fan of their column in general, Ms. Mitchell and Ms. Sugar really missed the mark on this one and I am going to set the record straight.

Here’s the first excerpt I need to address written by the teacher.

In light of current events, I take these threats seriously.  I’ve spoken to the principal, vice principal, school social workers, and the boys’ parents.  They all tell me to “focus on the positive things the kids can do.  She goes to say Quitting is not an option.

I feel the pain from this educator and I have seen frustration come from teachers many times over the years due to a lack of support from administrators and parents on a variety of issues.  The first thing that has to be addressed is the children and the threats.  All threats should be taken seriously whether the child is going to be able to act on them or not.  Schools are learning environments and everyone has a job to do.  It is not a place where students (or teachers) should be able to run their mouths about anything they want.  Although discretion can always be used, any teacher shouldn’t have a problem with escorting a student out of the room into another classroom, a counselor’s office, or the principal’s office.  When I was a teacher, my classroom was frequently used for children who didn’t behave.  The administrations I worked under were good but they weren’t always available.  Teachers should have alliances with other teachers they trust in order to lean on each other during a time of need.

Quitting is always an option especially if a teacher feels their life is in danger.  Another option might be to transfer schools.  Depending on where you live, there are probably only 6-8 weeks left in the school year.  If the environment is so toxic that a teacher can’t find support, there are other good schools.  It may mean a longer commute or even moving but it would be worth it in the long run.

Another problem with the Annie’s mailbox response is when Mitchell and Sugar responded “We realize you are fearful, but an alarmed approach is not productive.”  They also go on to say that the teacher should be able to help the children with their coping skills through counseling or assistance.

Here’s the problem:  There are parents who are crazy.  They live in neighborhoods that are crazy.  In the end, the environments can make the children crazy.  When a child is 7 and he/she threatens to kill someone with a gun, they do not have a coping issue.  They are troubled and need adult guidance!  The teacher also had noted that she talked with the school counselor and had gotten nowhere.

I have worked with hundreds of children who have had severe issues.  Over time, they were trained (and in some cases medicated) by me and many others in order to acclimate to society.  It’s one thing if a threat was made one time but if it’s a repeated pattern of behavior (which it sounds like it may be based on the article) then overlooking it can wind up being a really big mistake.

Children have to be called out and held accountable for their behavior.  The accountability will ensure that not only can a teacher have a productive year with the other students but the troublemakers can go into following years with a chance to learn and develop as a person and a student.  Obviously, we are in the beginning of April and the things I have suggested haven’t been implemented.  That means for approximately 25 children, education was interfered with at that particular school. This easily extrapolates over future years and it’s one of the primary reasons test scores struggle nationwide.  Teachers and administrators must work together to ensure children get the best education possible!

Thanks for reading.  As promised, here is the link to the Annie’s Mailbox article.  http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/apr/01/teacher-alarmed-by-students-threats/

Feel free to include your email address in my Feedburner (located on the right).  I will write to you again next week.

Best wishes!


  1. margaret says:

    I truly feel for this educator, this teacher really needs to think about taking drastic steps. Like you I take all threats seriously in light of all that is going on with school shootings I would not wait for a second threat!
    Living F.A.B.ulously on Purpose

  2. claytonthomas says:

    There's no doubt that I wouldn't wait for a second threat. The real injustice though because the children were so small was the lack of accountability. The school had a genuine chance to help these young minds with the basic concept of right and wrong but failed to do so. These are the type of children I worry about in later years when it is too late.