The dangers of crying wolf

Published 7:45 pm Tuesday, December 3, 2019

It’s safe to say most people have heard the old fable of the little boy who cried wolf. After crying loudly, and falsely, of a canine threat multiple times, the story goes that on the day a real wolf finally approached, none of the other villagers responded, thinking it was another of the boy’s childish pranks. As a result, the wolf ate the sheep the boy was guarding.

On Sunday, Washington saw firsthand the results of another childhood prank gone seriously wrong. Because of some kids “playing on the phone,” a very busy local business had to be evacuated, disrupting the daily lives of the people shopping there. It also meant a heavy response from the Washington Police Department.

Although the threat to drive a military vehicle into the store’s façade was completely unfounded, it was clear that the WPD, and the store’s management, took the incident seriously, as they well should.

Unfortunately, many shoppers at the establishment did not. According to police, many ignored the warnings from store employees to leave at first. Had there been a real threat, they well could have been putting the lives of themselves and others at risk.

Washington Police and Fire Services Director Stacy Drakeford put it best after the incident.

“Pay attention to the announcement and follow the directions,” he said. “Even though we live in a small community, we still can be affected by events like active shooters, bomb threats or any acts of violence. Just because we’re a small city doesn’t exclude us from that potentially happening here.”

While the slow response from shoppers is concerning, the root cause of the problem is perhaps even more troubling; juvenile kids, children, calling a business and making a threat, with no way of realizing how much trouble they were about to cause.

It’s not the first time its happened in Beaufort County, and it probably won’t be the last. Last year alone, a number of false threats were made against schools in Beaufort County, also by children who had no idea how seriously their words would be taken. In some cases, those incidents led to felony charges that may follow those students for years.

So, like the fable of the boy who cried wolf, there is also a moral to the story when it comes to what happened at the Washington Walmart this weekend. Specifically, these words of wisdom go out to parents. Talk to your kids about the consequences their words can carry. The world has enough problems without more kids crying wolf.