SERWAN ZANGANA: Roanoke City Authorities Have Taken Threats Against Schools Seriously

Unfortunately, Friday’s Roanoke Public Schools closing marked the second consecutive day [Feb. 22-23] of threats. The schools shut their doors and kept the staff and students at home because of the risks of the threat. The teachers postponed the knowledge to be taught to their students while the students missed the value of two days’ opportunities of learning.

As in the other parts of the nation, Roanoke City is not immune from threats and crimes. Obviously, aggressive behavior is pervasive in the community and among the youths and adults. It is a continuous crisis transpiring in U.S. society every day.

As Americans, we are living in a troubled society. Such trouble is surrounding every race and ethnicity and will harm our posterity. School threats and shootings have become a part of Americans’ daily concerns. Our society has basically become a rotten fruit as various factors continue to undermine the basic principles of humanity.

Apparently, schools have been targets in the community, and this causes much distress for countless people. Considering the existing differences between people creates separation in the community, such separation in many cases can be diminished with children attending schools equally and sitting in front of the same teacher. Obviously, schools are the foundation of modern society and the very wheels by which generations advance.

School threats and shootings change the routines of people’s daily lives and causes a permanent worry for most families. The sensitivity of school threats and shootings can be seen as it moves the community in an unknown direction. It is worth noting that the complexity of these situations test our school administrators, law enforcement departments, and other officials.

In fact, each department is responsible to act strategically in order to keep students and staff safe. But regardless of their provisions, situations can change quickly and become a larger catastrophe. In addition to the complexity to counter these threats and shootings, the authorities have to answer to the media and community, including parents. And this indeed determines the fate and the reputation of each member of the various departments.

According to the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center 2019, there is no profile of a student attacker, or profile for school type that might be a target. Student attackers vary in age, race, and grade level and every school is vulnerable to attack. Therefore, it is difficult to predict such attacks, but perhaps observing students’ behaviors and assessing their interactions could be the key to prevention.

There are many other factors that can lead a student to commit a violent act against schools, staff, and students. A major driver is the student’s social interaction with friends, including romantic relationships. According to the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center 2019, most students attackers experienced a social stressor that involved their relationships.

However, it is important to take every small situation seriously, because actions or reactions can quickly develop into a larger crisis in school.

– Serwan Zangana supported Operation Iraqi Freedom as a U.S Army translator before coming to the U.S from Kurdistan, Iraq in 1997 to seek political asylum. He was granted asylum status and years later proudly became a U.S citizen. He currently serves as a correction officer in Roanoke.


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