Panic Rehearsal: High Schools on Friday, 4/30 : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Got a small taste last week of what "community panic" looks like. I listened to my teens talk with friends throughout the week about Littleton and about Friday being the anniversary of Hitler's death. Heard innumerable stories about rumored Websites with hit lists and such (never a URL provided, every time I asked.) We talked with other parents about their thoughts on the whole situation and about how they were going to handle their teen's attendance on Friday.

It was amazing. My daughter and a majority of her friends were flat out panicked, and no amount of analysis and assurance from us could get her past that. Hours of discussion about likely risks and what was being done to deal with them. With the beefed-up security, I could hardly imagine a safer place than these schools on Friday. Didn't matter. Daughter was literally worried sick about the rumors of "planned attacks" on area high schools.

She stayed home from school (under "home and not sick" rules, though: no TV or videos, no radio or CDs, options of homework or reading, required to help her Mom with chores). Quiet day, pleasant weekend, back to school this morning.

This is the atmosphere in which we will face Y2K, friends. In San Diego county, attendance at high schools was down by an average of 40% (it was down almost 60% at my daughter's school), and all it took was one extremely visible and dramatic incident in the news, and a whole lot of rumors. If Y2K-related failures become at all visible and there's a perceived threat, the rumors will begin, and panic will likely follow.


-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), May 03, 1999


You should listen to your daughter. Those rumors tend to have some thread of reality behind them...and the children tend to act out those vague, and unsubstantiated items that appeal to their sense of immortality and needs for power and control. If you never give in to her need to feel she has a fall back position when feeling threatened, then she will find protection elsewhere...guess where?

-- Shelia (, May 03, 1999.

Shelia -

Not sure of your point, as we did "give in to her need to feel"; she stayed home, despite our misgivings about allowing this. Many other parents opted to require their kids to go to school, so that their kids "faced their fears" and worked through them. Those who attended school reported a very enjoyable day, as class size was reduced by 40-60% and the learning experience was greatly enhanced. My daughter and wife reported a fairly enjoyable day as well, including both grocery and "fun" shopping. Unfortunately, my daughter now has some SAT9 tests to make up (*sigh*).

There were no "school incidents" anywhere in the US on Friday, other than a few bomb scares with no devices found after a search. While there may have been a "thread of reality" behind all the rumors, smart risk management requires that we use more than "threads" when planning, otherwise you waste valuable resources (especially time and energy) chasing phantoms. Lots and lots of resources were wasted Friday.

Just curious: how old are your kids? Would you have let them stay home, or had them face their fears?

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), May 03, 1999.

"smart risk management requires that we use more than "threads" when planning, otherwise you waste valuable resources (especially time and energy) chasing phantoms."

Tell that to the parents of the dead kid in Alberta. You did the right thing by keeping her home.


-- Slightly Dubious (, May 03, 1999.

Glad it worked out. Here there was Chaos! Day before, a kid brought a bomb to a middle school. Sherrif, bomb squad, K-9 squad, Possee on a round the clock guard. Local H.S. flyer passed out listing school shootings, calendar for April 20 with question: What will be the Body Count? Incident and substantial rumors filled TWO legal sized pages at local talk show. GLAD I HOMESCHOOL!!!

-- K Stevens (kstevens@scared out of my wits .com), May 03, 1999.

I'm in the SF bay area, and there were lots of bomb threats at the high schools and middle schools on the local news last week. Some kids were actually found with bomb making materials, and most were just scares.

The point about what people will do in a panic is well taken.

-- Mary (, May 03, 1999.

Mac, I realize I didn't phrase my response correctly...I was applauding you for allowing your daughter to take a day need time to think through their fears, to feel their fears and separate them from the mass mind they are subjected to in the group at school. I think you did the right thing.

'Just curious: how old are your kids? Would you have let them stay home, or had them face their fears?' thank goodness my children are grown...but I now have three grandchildren in school. I would have allowed them the time to deal with it internally before asking them to deal with it externally.

I think you handled it perfectly...that she spent some time with her mom and felt her feelings counted is very important...sorry to sound as if I didn't agree with you.

The mass mind point is what you emphasized, and that isn't easy for adults to handle, much less so for the children.

-- Shelia (, May 03, 1999.

S.D. -

The shootings in Taber, Alberta came only a day or two after Columbine and before any changes were made to the school's security. That was my point: the changes that were made for Friday (reminiscent of an airport after a bomb scare) would have stymied any attacks.

And it is truly a statement of our violent times that the Taber incident came and went without much notice at all; do a Websearch for it - not much out there at all. Sad...

Shelia -

Thanks for the clarification, and congrats on those grandkids! Yes, it is the "mass mind" that should be watched closely. I saw a whole lot of teens (and some adults) who looked far too much like a panicky herd for my comfort. What can we learn from this in preparation for potential Y2K "stampedes"?

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), May 03, 1999.

What can we learn? That neither ourselves, and certainly not our children, are ever 100% immune to that which is unconscious and drives the herd instinct. This is one reason I think the discussions that drive this board are very important: we all discuss, mull over, sometimes amend our phrasing or even our positions. Fears are brought to the surface, dealt with sometimes, and whenever solutions are available these are brought to the fore. Consensus is not always reached...which somewhat protects against the herd instinct.

I found myself saying to my sister the other night: 'when are parents going to quit adjusting to insanity...and stop expecting their children to adjust? The kids have a hard enough time adjusting to their hormones.'

Now, from my grandmother's perspective: if I could I would take all of my grandchildren out of the public schools and homeschool them all. One is currently being homeschooled.

In the schools as they currently exist (overpopulated, understaffed, assembly line production oriented) the children learn so little of value; plus some very destructive habits: 1. they learn to adjust. Some will argue either now or later they'll have to adjust to things as they are. I will argue that only when people stop accepting things as they are and refuse to adjust, do things change. 2) to form herds called cliques -- later translated into social climbing/organizational competitiveness. Some will argue that is as it should be. I will argue until we learn win-win strategies at all levels, the people will never be more than fodder to the machine we call modern society. 3)to value those very ideals which do great harm to their psyches, by forcing them into perpetual comparison mode. Once there, they are forced to either undervalue and discount their own worth or to appropriate undue value in determining themselves to be superior for things that are at the core of the destruction of our society (i.e., prettier, richer, more athletic,etc).

The point to all of this is that we should not undermine our own or our children's sense of intuitive understanding, of common sense, of reality by telling them to adapt to that which is nothing less than insanity by suppressing their own perspective in lieu of the social construct that says they must do so and so.

-- Shelia (, May 03, 1999.

I reside in a small rual community, you know the "it can't happen here" kind. My daughter came home last week and imformed us that the high school had suspended one student for carrying a notebook around with information on making bombs.(he is required to complete a counseling program before being allowed to return to school.) A- nother student was dismissed until charges of shooting another student in the leg the previous night are cleared up. (he started the school day by roaming the halls and yelling that everyone was going to die.) My daughter didn't seem disturbed by these events...and i think that is disturbing to me, that the children are so used to hearing about and seeing violent events that it is considered the norm. No one is completely safe, no matter where they are. This is something to add to the y2k thought list. If things are getting scary out here then more populated places had better wake up and smell more than the roses!

-- kitten (, May 04, 1999.

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