Felonious Dark Humor from Teenagers
An Associated Press story on WPRI’s Web site raises two questions:
A Florida teenager faces a felony charge after getting so fed up with her little sister’s noisy phone that she threatened to shoot up a school. …
The teen told investigators she was so annoyed by the sounds from a sixth-grade group chat that she took her sister’s phone and wrote: “Next person to say something is the first person I will shoot on the school shooting that will take place this Friday.”
The police have officially determined that the 16-year-old does not actually have any plans for a school shooting. While we can all be grateful for that, one must wonder: Isn’t felony sarcasm a bit of an extreme charge in response to teenagers’ famously poor judgment?
A second question follows on that one: Should we really want children to internalize the idea that just mentioning a school shooting is a major crime? It seems to me that we’d want the threats to be made so that they could be quickly investigated, not only to determine whether there’s an actual threat, but also to discover whether the teenager needs help.