Have you been in an airport and heard this pre-recorded message repeated over and over? "Never leave your bags unattended. Keep your bags with you at all times! If you see a bag unattended, please alert security using the courtesy phone."
It is very likely that after hearing the message you either looked around for unattended bags or became paranoid about walking away from your own! Wouldn't it be great if everything that was a potential danger in life were as obvious as a suitcase that had been left behind in an airport? Unfortunately people who are at risk to hurt themselves or others don't always give clear signs about doing something life-threatening.
So what can you do to help prevent dangerous acts from occurring?
- Be aware. Listen, look, pay attention to the people and places around you.
- Go with your gut. If you feel uncomfortable about something you have seen or heard, talk to an adult to help you sort out the facts of the situation.
- Report it. There is a difference between reporting and tattling or gossiping. By providing information either directly or anonymously, you may be able to prevent harm to others.
- Know what to report.
- who, or what you saw
- when you saw it
- where it occurred
- why it's suspicious
- Keep reaching out. If the person you speak with doesn't take it seriously or isn't sure what to do, involve someone else with greater authority.
Sometimes there are multiple puzzle pieces that don't make sense until they are put together. For example, you may notice someone's aggressive behavior, and your friend may have heard that same person make a threatening remark. Other classmates saw disturbing comments or photos that person posted on Social Media. There are also a handful of people that know this person has access to a gun.
Each individual situation above doesn't necessarily guarantee danger. But once you put the puzzle pieces together, you can get a better understanding of a potential serious problem.
Just like an abandoned suitcase in the airport, if you see or hear something suspicious, say something. Don't be afraid to keep reporting it until you feel like its being taken seriously. And if it has the potential to be a life-threatening situation, talk to someone who has the power and authority to do something about the situation.