Letter to the Editor from Naomi Bain of Warfield.

Letter to the Editor from Naomi Bain of Warfield.

Opinion: Kootenay Columbia district was quick to blame social media

Letter to the Editor: School District’s response to social media post inadequate and concerning

I am writing to express my extreme concern with which the Instagram post of a gun and subsequent follow up of that situation was handled by School District 20 (“SD20 addresses concerns after student posts photo with fake gun,” Trail Times June 13).

As a parent of children who attend JL Crowe, I received the email informing me of the situation at 8:16 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, June 12, 2018. My children leave at 7:40 to catch their bus and I leave at 7:55 for work. Had I been unaware of the situation, the email was sent too late for me to make an informed decision as to whether to send my kids to school or not.

The email was also too late for me to be able to discuss the situation with my children and front load them as to what had happened and what was happening and they had a right to know. Had I been unable to check my email at work, which is the case for many parents, I would have been completely unaware of the situation.

The post, school and district response and RCMP involvement happened on the afternoon/evening of Monday, June 11, 2018. An email should have been sent late in the evening/early morning hours. Parents and students should have been made aware of the situation prior to 8:16am. I know some people who did not receive the email at all. This situation should be used as a learning opportunity for the school and the district to further improve upon their response time and procedure should this occur again.

On top of being sent too late, the email seemed to make light of the reaction of parents and the use of social media. Bill Ford stated “Unfortunately, social media, which is both a blessing and a curse, has taken a situation that was serious and turned it into something blown out of proportion.”

Had it not been for our use of social media, we as parents would have been completely uninformed as to what was happening. While social media may have its issues, without it, we were in the dark about a very disturbing and potentially dangerous situation. A situation that we should have been informed about by the district as it unfolded.

Given the current climate of school gun violence in the United States, I find the district’s lack of urgency and saying that it “was blown out of proportion”, repugnant. I do not believe there is any other way for parents to act when the life of our children may be in danger.

Bill Ford’s letter also gave no mention of the reaction of the children. These are children who have grown up with the internet, who access it themselves on a daily basis. Many of these children were aware of the situation through social media, because regardless of Bill Ford’s opinion about it, they use social media faithfully.

The district’s letter did not address and therefore, I feel discounted the children’s response and how this situation has affected them. Given their access to social media, these are also children who are well aware of the gun violence and subsequent mass murders that happen fairly regularly in the United States. They are well aware of how badly this situation could have been and SD20 has largely ignored them in all of this.

There has been no follow up to parents from the School District since the morning of June 12, 2018 in spite of the fact that the young man in question showed up at the school and was escorted from the premises. The District has ensured the safety of our children, “we can say that Crowe is as safe today as it was yesterday” yet this young man was able to gain access to the school. That does not make parents or students feels safe and makes us question the district’s ability to keep our children safe when this young man was able to gain access to the school.

The district needs to either revisit, or restructure, its procedure when a situation like this occurs.

Mr. Ford was quick to blame social media, but social media is how most of this information was gained because it did not come from School District 20. You cannot blame parents for seeking information from other outlets, when the district was silent.

School District 20 handled this situation abysmally! I hope, going forward, if an unfortunate situation like this were to occur again, the information sent out to parents and students alike would be sent quickly and effectively, without blaming social media. Had SD20 sent out the information in a time sensitive manner, perhaps people would not have had to turn to social media for information.

I hope going forward; a situation like this would be handled much more competently. As a parent, I do not feel that Bill Ford fully grasps the damage that this threat and how it was dealt with has done to our children, the parents and our community at large.

Naomi Bain