Prosecutor Lindquist speaks to students about school violence

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Lindquist’s school visits aim to provide students with good information so they can play a role in keeping their school and their classmates safe. Photo courtesy of Prosecutor’s Office

Prosecutor Mark Lindquist has reached out to each school district in Pierce County with an offer to educate students in every junior high, middle school, and high school about school violence and school threats. At Ford Middle School, the prosecutor, his Chief of Staff, Dawn Farina, and Deputy Prosecutor Sarah Eaquinto delivered the first of what are expected to be numerous in-school presentations on school violence and school threats.

“It’s our duty in the Prosecutor’s Office to help keep the community safe,” Lindquist told the students. “Protecting the community includes keeping your school safe and keeping each one of you safe.”

Farina assured the students that, “School violence and threats against schools will always be taken seriously. Whether someone is joking or not, making a threat against a school is a crime. For your safety, we have to take any threat seriously.”

The presentations are short but packed with information, and Lindquist’s team plans to always make time for a few questions.

It is a project many school administrators are eager to have for their students.

“I think this is a great opportunity for our students to learn about the law,” said Principal Heather Renner. “And also for them to know how serious the schools take the threats, but also how serious the Prosecutor’s Office takes the threats.”

Lindquist and his team spoke with nearly 1,000 students. They had many concerns and questions, such as, “What’s the fine line between free speech and illegal speech?” “What are the consequences of making a threat on Snapchat?” “Are we safe?”

“Free speech has limits,” Lindquist told the students. “For example, you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. You can’t threaten the safety of others.” In response to the Snapchat question, Lindquist reminded students that the contents of Snapchat never really disappear, and a threat made to a school will always be taken seriously, no matter how the threat is delivered.

Eaquinto encouraged the students to notify school authorities immediately if they learn about a threat. “That means if you hear something or see something, say something,” Eaquinto said. 

“We are safest when we look out for each other,” Lindquist concluded.

Franklin Pierce Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Hewins said, “We are grateful for the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office willingness to educate our students about the seriousness of threats, while inviting each of us to think about the ways that we can foster safe, secure, and supportive learning environments.” 

Students were receptive to the presentation and the hope is, if equipped with good information, students can play a role in keeping their school and their classmates safe.

If you’d like a presentation at your child’s school, call your principal. For more information, please contact James Lynch at (253) 798-6265, jlynch@co.pierce.wa.us.

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