Reform of the advisory period can result in fewer shootings

Ocean Lakes High School has pledged to promote acceptance and actively challenge stereotypes regarding mental health. However, the school has yet to actually push the “#Stigma-free” movement, and the area that invites the high school community to sign the pledge remains blank.

Kenshin Dean

Ocean Lakes High School has pledged to promote acceptance and actively challenge stereotypes regarding mental health. However, the school has yet to actually push the “#Stigma-free” movement, and the area that invites the high school community to sign the pledge remains blank.

Kenshin Dean, Commentary Editor

Virginia Beach schools received an influx of threats after a shooting at Heritage High School in Newport News. 

As a result of this, at least two high schools in Virginia Beach, and multiple other schools in the Hampton Roads area had increased police presence. 

Some students at Ocean Lakes High School felt unsafe after the threats to the other schools, as there were numerous rumors on social media that the Heritage shooting was the first of many shootings. 

These threats are preventable, and the school should induce further measures to deter students from making dangerous rumors in the first place, utilizing advisory periods to present easier ways to get mental help and to show the consequences of making threats.

Many questions were brought up during this time, including how to stop these threats from happening in the future. 

According to the National School Safety and Security Services, threats happen either as a joke or as a result of extreme emotional trauma. 

A major solution to these issues would be education of the consequences relating to school shooting threats. 

In Virginia, posting threats on social media results is a class 6 felony, resulting in up to 12 months in jail and a $2500 fine. 

However, some of the people that make threats against schools do not know the consequences and end up committing a crime.

Schools should teach students about the consequences of making threats during the advisory period.

“We are always looking for more ideas when it comes to advisory,” said Dr. Claire LeBlanc, the principal at Ocean Lakes High School. “All of the policy and the discipline guidelines can be accessed at vbcps.com.”

Another solution would be to make mental health counseling more readily available to students. 

According to the National School Safety and Security Services, another major cause of school shooting threats, and school shootings in general, is sudden emotional trauma, such as a death in the proximity of the shooter, or severe bullying. 

Adults at the school who frequently interact with students, such as teachers and counselors, should quickly identify these factors, and prevent the student from doing anything drastic. 

Although stopping these threats is a tall order, it is still possible to minimize the number of threats happening, utilizing advisory periods for its original purpose. 

The schools should enact campaigns to make mental health counseling more available, and should actively utilize advisory periods to try and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

The school has pledged to become “stigma-free,” but on a sign that states that, where it invites students to “sign the pledge,” no signatures can be found. If students are not aware of this campaign, it is time to promote it, publicize it, and not just with a sign in the hallway next to the blue and gold room. The school can use the advisory period to educate the students with resources that help destigmatize mental issues, as well as push for people to sign the actual poster, since school actually took initiative to educate the student body about the stigmatization of mental health issues. 

Students can learn more and help push this issue by speaking, the school resource officer, who is a helpful resource that can teach the consequences of committing a crime at school, whether it be making a threat, or speaking to Dr. LeBlanc, who is open to ideas regarding advisory.