Mamas and daddies,

I need to talk to you right now.

I’m talking to you as someone who has known most of you for decades. You know that I just adore you—even (maybe especially) those of you who were “frequent flyers” in the office. And you also know that I don’t pull my punches with you.

Mama and Daddy, I need you to talk to your kiddos this weekend. Even if you KNOW your child would never do or say something stupid. (Oh my! Are you in for a surprise because most of our children will do something stupid at some point — including your kids.)

Talk to them about how no one has a good sense of humor about threats these days.

“I was just kidding!”

“Everyone knows I’d never do anything like that!”

None of those disclaimers will keep a child from facing very serious consequences if they say, write or do anything threatening.

When I was still teaching, my students had to turn their tests over on their desks when they were finished and I would walk around and pick up the papers. (It kept cheating down.)

One of my students liked to do a takeoff on a popular book of cartoons at the time called “1001 uses for a dead cat.” On the back of his tests, he would draw cartoons of “1001 uses for a dead Ms. Montgomery.”

The drawings were funny and, for the most part, inoffensive. I actually looked forward to seeing his drawing on each test.

Today, that young man would be arrested and spend the rest of the year in our juvenile justice education programs.

Because the world has changed.

What was once funny or quirky is scary today.

And if you actually have a concern about your child, don’t keep it a secret. Talk to the school, talk to your minister, talk to a therapist, talk to your child.

And, oh yeah, make sure your guns are absolutely inaccessible to your children.

You are not a failure if your child is having a tough time.

Talk to your children about their friends. Do your children feel comfortable talking to you about concerning behaviors of their friends? Don’t be afraid to broach uncomfortable topics with your children.

If you are not talking to them, who is?

The threats have to stop. You and I and our kiddos cannot keep on living in this state of heightened worry.

By the way, if you think the solution is to keep your kids home from school, you need to remember Aurora, Colorado and Sutherland Springs and Greenwood Park Mall and Highland Park parade and Luby’s and…

The world can be a scary place. We all have to work together to keep our kids and our community safe. We can do this!

Never ever forget that you are always in my heart.

Dr. Patricia Montgomery Walker retired as superintendent in Angleton ISD, where she had been a teacher and prinicpal. She now serves as interim superintendent for Danbury ISD.

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