St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly recently sent what was essentially a back-to-school message to local school superintendents. His letter was about paying serious attention to threats, regardless of how serious you think they might be.
While he didn't name the school, the details point to Mascoutah and show how an alert parent might have prevented mass school violence. It started with a text from a 15-year-old boy who stated he wanted to "kill everyone he knows."
There were plenty of points at which the warning signal could have faded. The mom might not have found out about the text on her daughter's phone. The mom might have decided the threat was not serious and failed to tell school administrators. Administrators, too, might have judged the kid to be a crank and failed to tell police.
"They did not write it off as a joke or 'venting,' but took what information they had at face value and informed the appropriate authorities. Thank God we will never know what harm they may have prevented. And that's the point," Kelly wrote.
The only thing we'd change about Kelly's message is the audience. We all need to know how close this troubled teen, who is now in a juvenile facility, might have been to bringing Columbine or Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech to our community.
Better to be wrong than silent, because these things can happen anywhere.