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The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.

The Budget

The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.

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School violence threats need to end

Bathroom graffiti sparks fear among students
Maya Smith
An outside entrance to Lawrence High School notes that guns are not allowed inside the building.

Imagine this: you pull out a red sharpie from your pocket, laugh to yourself and begin writing on the wall of the bathroom.

It’s funny. It’s just a harmless joke between you and the silence of the stall. You had a bad day, and writing remarks about violent things you wish you could do relieves the stress. To you, it doesn’t matter what you write because no one will know you wrote it. You think it’s better than posting about it online, saying it. 

Someone else goes into the stall shortly after you, and reads what you wrote. They pull out their phone and message the person you wrote it about. 

Just like that, school isn’t a safe space anymore for that person. They’ve been threatened.

A simple snowball effect builds just from a few words. A tiny moment in time for you that becomes a week of fear for another human being. Maybe you know you’d never actually do the things you wrote. But does everyone else?

On Wednesday, Dec. 13, Principal Dr. Quentin Rials sent out an email to the student body describing graffiti that was found in bathrooms that threatened the safety of the school. He emphasized the importance of sharing any concerns of students safety, and the fact that every level of threat should be taken seriously as a safety precaution. 

Reading this email, my first thought was that bathroom graffiti has been a recurring issue for Lawrence High School, and a pattern appears of hate speech and symbols. These issues have previously led to closures of the gender neutral bathrooms. 

In New Hampshire in May of 2023, a student was charged with violating civil rights laws due to racially induced graffiti. He was able to avoid a $3,500 fine by offering to do community service and being ordered to write a 3,000-word essay. I believe this can be seen as an example of what could happen to a student here if we allow this situation to spiral. If we report what we see, we can stop the problem right now. It won’t become a larger problem. But as it stands right now, there is still a risk of it becoming a legal issue. 

While there is a drastic difference between hate speech and school violence threats, they all add up to one obvious fact. These words are harmful. While the admin can do what they can to try and erase what they find and send out emails, we as members of the student body, have something that they do not. This is the ability to connect and communicate with each other. We have the ability to confront people who we know are writing harmful things; without the power balance of an SRO officer and a student that may lead to lies. We have the ability to use the anonymous tip line if we find anything so violent we don’t feel safe addressing the student ourselves. 

Use this ability. If you see something that could possibly be harmful, reach out to either an SRO or report to the anonymous tip line.

Wanting what is best for the student body is not being a “snowflake”, or a “snitch.” It is witnessing something that could be harmful, and actually doing something about it. Rather than sitting by and letting it happen.

School should be a safe place for all students, and writing threats on the walls of the bathroom stalls is not a productive way to solve stress from conflicts between students or negative feelings revolving around school. Problems are solved through communicating with your peers, your admin and your teachers.

Threatening violence through insignificant words is not us. It is not behavior that represents Lawrence High School.The principal should not have to request for more police on school grounds, leading to more uneasiness in the building and more conflicts.

Words are not meaningless. We can take a look at the anti-semitic graffiti we saw around this time last year and notice the pattern of hateful speech getting worse.

Reach out, and use the resources that have been given to you. We can do better. 

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About the Contributors
Beatrix Johnson
Beatrix Johnson, Red and Black Managing Editor
I'm the managing editor of the yearbook, and a second year designer on the journalism staff! Outside of the journalism staff, I'm involved in choir, and theatre. In my free time I'm usually listening to music or hanging out with my friends.
Maya Smith
Maya Smith, Red and Black Co-Editor in Chief

I am a second year editor-in-chief of the Red and Black Yearbook and have been on staff for three years. I am considered a jack of all trades - I take photos, write, design, and do lots and lots of live reporting. When I’m not working on journalism, I’m a part of IPS, Student Council, Unified Sports, Link Crew, and Hang12.

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