Absences for threats should be excused

Izzy Belof, Opinions Editor

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The fact that certain schools will not provide an excused absence in response to violent threats is, for lack of a better term, inexcusable.

One such high school is Harding High School in Ohio’s Marion school district. The school received a shooting threat on Feb. 20, and failed to notify the students’ parents. One mother pulled her son out of school once she learned of the threat.

“[The mother] said she was concerned that her son’s absence would be tallied against him,” reported the Marion Star, a local newspaper. “Interim superintendent Steve Fujii did not comment on whether the absences would be excused.”

It is apparent some administrators care more about the number of students present for roll call than the potential casualties caused by a shooting.

“But you shouldn’t live your life in fear,” many people may argue. “The threats probably are not even be real!” 

Although Cal High has experienced several empty threats over the past month related to an attack on May 9, students should not risk their lives when there is even a miniscule chance of the threat being real.

Ironically, the fear of fear is worse than the fear itself. Fear is a natural response that has aided the human race in surviving for thousands of years. 

“Fight or flight” is a common term referring to a primitive instinct which provides two basic, automatic reactions when faced with a dangerous situation: overcome the threat, or run from it, according to a Harvard University study.

Not every hazard can be overcome by immediate confrontation, or a “fight”.  If someone has a gun, it certainly isn’t wise to strike them if you lack the proper strength or equipment to make it effective. In fact, it is best if the situation is avoided entirely.

So why should students be obligated to place themselves in possible danger because of academic pressure? Shouldn’t their survival be prioritized over their grades?

Student responses to the threat have been concerning, as most people have taken on a form of dark humor when dealing with the situation. When faced with previous threats, it is very common for students to make jokes such as, “If I get shot, at least I won’t have to take my math test tomorrow” or “My parents don’t care if I die, as long as I get good grades.”

While feigning indifference, students are concealing a deep, genuine fear. According to the business magazine Inc., 70 percent of teenagers are afraid of terrorism affecting their own personal lives. 

This terror combined with the pressure of overbearing authorities results in students feeling unsafe and overwhelmed, when they should be reassured that they deserve to remain safe, even if that means missing a few days of school.

Students should feel that their lives are more important than their schoolwork. They shouldn’t feel guilty for explaining their absence, nor should they be berated by teachers and parents who blame them for being afraid.

It was good to see that most students didn’t feel guilty when about 80 percent of them didn’t come to campus on May 9, when a schoot shooting was threatened. And it was even better to see that our district did the right thing and excused all of these absences.