Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First Coast Parents Have Scary Week

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First Coast Parents Have Scary Week

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union columnist

My sweet, almost always cheerful 21-month old daughter has started doing something new.

When she gets frustrated, she bangs her head against things. The floor, the TV, the refrigerator, whatever is convenient.

My wife did some research and found that this isn't uncommon. It apparently can be part of a stage, a way to vent all the emotions swirling around her little head. Toddlers, one book said, are a lot like teenagers.

This made me feel better, until I realized that before I know it she will be a teenager, heading off to a school full of teenagers, many of them looking for things to bang their heads against.

It has been a scary week to be a parent on the First Coast.

On Monday, many in Clay County were trying to deal with the news that 15-year-old Edgar David Baez had died nine days after being punched by another student at Ridgeview High School.

That night, John Pitts, father of a freshman at Paxon High, was staring in disbelief at an Internet weblog of another Paxon freshman, a student in the nationally ranked school's advanced studies program.

The postings talked about vengeance, anarchy and torture. There were references, Pitts says, to something called the "Shadow Alliance." And, most disturbing to the father of two girls, there were descriptions of Brittney, his 14-year-old daughter, as "our next target."

"I'm thinking about Ridgeview," Pitts said. "I'm thinking about Columbine. It all started with stuff like this. People with their Web sites, venting their anger on those sites and nobody paying attention."

Four years ago, in the wake of Columbine, schools did pay attention. Maybe too much.

Fingernail clippers were viewed as deadly weapons. Something mumbled under the breath became worthy of suspension. And if someone wore a black trench coat and didn't get along with the popular kids, well, then clearly he was the next Eric Harris. …

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