14-Year-Old's Stupid Terrorist Hoax to Airline Is a Teachable Moment. Nothing More.

The teen years are a time when you're expected to make dumb mistakes. Back in the day, we were able to do and say stupid things and -- if we were lucky -- learn from them and move on to become better people. Yeah, not so much anymore thanks to Twitter and Facebook.

"Sarah" isn't the first teenager -- and she won't be the last -- to learn the hard way that one thoughtless tweet could possibly ruin her life, despite the fact that she's only 14 years old. The young girl, whose social media account has since been deleted, reportedly made the grave error of sending American Airlines a ridiculously reckless tweet. She pretended she was a terrorist who was planning a major attack. Uh, 14 or not, you could say the airline took her message very seriously.


On Sunday morning, "Sarah" tweeted the following to American Airlines:

@AmericanAir hello my name's Ibrahim and I'm from Afghanistan. I'm part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I'm gonna do something really big bye.

What was she thinking?! Clearly, she wasn't thinking at all and was (maybe) tweeting the message because she thought it would be hilarious or impress friends. American Airlines responded exactly how it should have:

@queendemetriax_Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.

Oops. Proving most teens simply don't think beyond five minutes from the present time, "Sarah" responded in a way that seemed quite desperate -- and who could blame her:

"@AmericanAir omfg i was kidding"

"@AmericanAir I'm so sorry I'm scared now"

"@AmericanAir I was joking and it was my friend not me, take her IP address not mine"

"I'm f***ing 14 years old, do they think I'm going to blow up a plane or something. I'm just stupid okay."

The sad part -- well, this whole thing is just sad, isn't it? -- is that "Sarah" gained 20,000 followers after her posts. Rather than feeling ashamed, she tweeted, "I feel famous omg."

Oh dear God, no. But what do we expect a young teen to feel after thousands of kids and adults suddenly lavish her with attention and hang on her every word?

I understand why so many people want to use her as an example, but she is still super young. I can't help but feel bad for kids these days, who say stupid things -- like we all did -- but are forced to deal with the consequences of their words as adults because they are able to make them public via social media accounts. "Sarah" shouldn't be buried by the press and public in this instance -- this should serve as a valuable teaching moment for her.

An appropriate punishment for the teen would be to make her volunteer for organizations that raise money for 9/11 victims' families and to force her to take a class in which she learns more about 9/11.

Her actions were very dumb -- there's no doubt about that -- but we should all remember her age and treat her like a teen, not an adult, who did something wrong.

What do you think should happen to the 14-year-old who tweeted this message to American Airlines?


Image via Josh Beasley/Flickr

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