Bozeman High Students’ Emails & Goggle Searches are Monitored
Bozeman High School was under lockdown for almost an hour last week. But it seems we are not allowed to know why.
Let me state right up front, Bozeman High School did excitedly the right thing. When it is a matter of life and death and there is a threat of violence at our high school, don't take chances, lock down.
Today, I looked everywhere trying to find out what happened at Bozeman High. What are we allowed to know? I called others in the media. I spoke with the Superintendent of Schools Rob Watson; he confirmed something in the email triggered the investigation. I talked to Bozeman Chronicle reporter Whitney Bermes who did a story; she told me she also tried to find out what was said in the email. No luck.
Finally, after talking to the Bozeman police, I did get some information. A 15-year-old boy said something in an email.The emails, all emails and even Goggle searches of students, are monitored by a computer that looks for keywords. These words alert the forces that be to look into this immediately. The words in his email seems to threaten violence.
Wait, every email and search by Bozeman High students is monitored? Every student knows that. I was shocked to find this out, but okay it's the 21st century. Still, why can't I find out what gets the computer monitoring our kids to get the authorities involved?
I tried to find out what the words were that upset the computer. I wondered if saying, "I hate my teacher." "Bobby from third period is going to get beat up." "I hope my math teacher chokes." "I am bringing a gun to school and killing everyone." Why can't we be told, leaving out names, etc. what was in the email.
So these words: hate, beat up, choke, gun, kill, do they trigger a lockdown. Do we have a right to know what we can or can't say in an email.
Does the public have a right to know? Could we be told what the kid said in the email that could lock down a whole school? I learned from Bozeman Police that while they would not tell me the exact words, they also wouldn't tell me what the email said. But I was told the 15-year-old student specifically named others and said he wanted to harm them.
In a new world order where people are monitored by computers to make sure violence, bullying and self harm doesn't happen. After. The key word is "after" action is taken. After a school is locked down and after police are called in. After all that, why can't we know what the kid said? The teachers must know. The police must know. The 15-year-old kid must know.
We are giving up so much freedom to keep us, children and the country safe. I still don't understand why we can't see the email.
I want to know if the police's and the school's actions are okay. If they did the right thing.
Remember past stories of a student being suspended from school for bringing drugs to school? An aspirin. Another child getting thrown out of school for holding a stick that in the teacher's opinion looked like a gun?
Are we to just trust the authorities? They know best. We must accept the word of a computer.
Just doesn't feel right.