It was creepy for a 32-year-old man who called himself "HippieSquirrel" to contact a bunch of middle school kids in Glens Falls through SnapChat. According to reports from the school and police, Wednesday morning a man who was using a computer at the library sent out unsolicited friend requests to the students. 

Creepy. But, unless there is something I don't know about this case (that the man threatened the kids, for instance, or propositioned them) the official reaction was overwrought. Police were called, then the school building was put in shelter-in-place mode. 

So kids are sheltering in place (whatever that means — hiding in the closet? under desks? locking classroom doors?) because a random adult sends them a friend request via the internet? 

It seems very unlikely the man made any threats or suggestions of a sexual nature or stated anything disturbing, because police tracked him down and did not charge him. He hadn't broken the law, police said.

Again, it's creepy. But someone could do something like this by mistake, I think (I've never been on SnapChat.) And even if it was intentional, creepy does not equal illegal. And creepy is also in the mind of the beholder. I would hope our schools would have sensible protocols that officials follow when deciding when to lock down the schools or have kids "shelter in place."

But this incident follows what I consider a tendency on the part of school officials (and not only school officials — much of our society has become a bunch of scaredy-cats) to overreact to the merest perception of danger. Buildings may go on lockdown when a scrawl of the word "bomb" is found on the wall of a bathroom stall, or, as happened in Queensbury several years ago, recess may be canceled when bears are spotted in the woods not far from the school.

My guess is that bears are in the woods not far from the Queensbury schools on some of the days during every single school year. Likewise, creepy people exist. What if a disheveled man walked on the public sidewalk past the Glens Falls school building and waved and smiled to kids milling around on the lawn? What if he said "Hi"? Time to shelter in place?

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Will Doolittle is projects editor at The Post-Star. He may be reached at will@poststar.com and followed on his blog, I think not, and on Twitter at



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