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There is something heavy on my heart today that I want to share with you.

Children who you might think would know better are joking about shooters. I personally know of a case in which 13-year-old students are facing suspension for joking in the school hallway about such matters.

The recent tragedy in Florida is unquestionably heartbreaking and intolerable. The students who joke agree.

But have we talked with the kids in our lives about this not being a joking matter? Have we actually had the conversation? Do we know they understand that they are subject to suspension or arrest or worse?

I believe we already should have had age-appropriate conversations with them about what to do if they are in an active shooter situation. (If you have not, there are various resources to help with that conversation.)

Please add this important lesson to that one. If you have not done so, have a serious conversation with your students never to joke about “shooter” or “terrorist” incidents in any way. You can approach this in a loving, yet serious way. Just as you taught them not to put their hand on a hot stove.

In the wake of the recent school shootings and the request from law enforcement for individuals to report any suspicious activity, the consequences can be extremely serious. It may result in suspension from school, arrest for a misdemeanor or a felony, or worse.

Our students must understand this is not a joking matter, and they must never participate in it. We cannot assume they understand the potential consequences.

I encourage you to teach them this lesson we all wish they never had to be taught.