being a teacher, being me

On Death Threats and the Life I Lead…

Black,  Free Image

Note:  There is offensive language in this post, not from me, but I wanted to warn you before you read it.

I was cooking dinner today when my phone went off.  Three new emails waited for me.  In between cooking dinner, catching up with my husband, and watching the kids have a water fight, I checked my email because I was waiting for an important one.

Two were comments on my blog, nothing unusual in that until I read them.  The first one said


The next one said


I showed my husband, Brandon, and tried to shrug it off.  After all, these aren’t the first vile comments I have received and they probably won’t be the last but he stopped me.  “What do you mean you have gotten comments like this before?  You haven’t told me that?!”

I guess in this day and age you just get used to it.  I see it happen all of the time, especially to women, and even more to women of color.  It seems to the price you pay to be public in a way, to being online.  Nestled in between all of the learning, the connections, and the book recommendations is your daily slice of hatred.   You have people who praise you, people who disagree with you, some in angry ways.  And then you have death threats against your family and yourself.

I blocked the commenter, deleted the comments after taking screenshots of everything. And yet, Brandon wouldn’t let it go.  “You should report it, just in case…” Sure it’s probably nothing, but still…And it was that “Just in case…” that made me do that very thing.

Because sure it is probably some kid somewhere having some fun.

Because sure it is probably some troll not caring who they wrote to or what they really said.

Because sure it is probably someone who just wanted to get a reaction and saw an easy way to do so.

But still, that small little thought is there; what if it’s not?

What if it’s not…

What if someone does want to hurt my children or me and I did nothing but shrug it off?

So I write this post to say it’s not okay.

It’s not okay for us to be a society where threats towards us and our families are so commonplace that we barely register when they happen.

Where language like what was posted to me is deleted rather than reported.

Where threats and the use of vulgar language are so common that we even hear people in power use them as if it is no big deal.

Where trolls and kids and whoever wants to hide behind their computers get to mess up your sense of security because who really cares how others feel, they were just joking anyway…

And because it happens so much we don’t even do anything about it.

It is a big deal.  And we have to remember that…

When kids say things in our classrooms that are not okay.

When people leave comments online that are not okay.

When those in power say things that are not okay.

We have to speak up, reclaim the conversations, and shift the power back.

So tonight, after I hung up with the police and they told me I did the right thing, while I didn’t feel much safer, I did feel right.  Like somehow me tracking that ISP.  Me documenting.  My writing and sharing let me reclaim a little piece of the power that someone tried to take away from me.  Because guess what?  I’m not done writing.





42 thoughts on “On Death Threats and the Life I Lead…”

  1. Oh my goodness! I don’t even understand people sometimes! This makes me so angry and sad. I so appreciate all I’ve learned from you. Thank you so very much.

  2. You obviously don’t deserve this and you did the right thing involving the police. Please still be strong and challenging. I love your blog posts.

  3. I have said this in other places. I am sorry this happened to you. That last line though. That is power and I am so grateful to be able to read your words. Thank you.

  4. Pernille,
    This is so maddening. The world we live in now is full of such awful people. Please know that I think you are a wonderful person and I love reading your blog post. Thank you for reporting this to the police and thank you for continuing to write. I think of your daughter and her bullying situation often and I pray she is having a much better school year this year. Now you have to deal with this as well. I teach 5th grade in Ohio and please know that I am right by you supporting you all the way.

  5. Yay! So brave of you and so right. We must keep writing and doing the right thing despite how scary our world seems at times. Know that there are good people out there wishing the best for you and your family.

  6. This is not going by too lightly for me……for so many others who value your contribution to pedagogy, sanity, life. I was ill today and not even at school; reading this makes me so glad I am going back tomorrow to resume classes with kids, but knowing you have been violated makes me worry. Social Media and Emails are “too convenient” when it comes to putting out personal views. We are BETTER than this, Mrs. Ripp. Continue to write…..we continue to read, learn, and grow. Sending you my commitment to be brave, do the right thing, and support the purposes you value!

  7. Pernille, thank you for writing this. I, too, would rather delete comments like that than take action (perhaps because there’s so much of it, just like you said). I want to add to this discussion this post by Alexandra Franzen: where she talks about the importance of speaking positively across social media and the Internet. She encourages us to take this Internet Pledge…. I think your point about calling out negativity, bullying and threats online can be added to this. Thank you!

  8. I cannot tell you how important your words are. Not just about reading. Not just about kids. About education. And, for reasons I cannot fathom, teaching young people the right way to behave, and to not tolerate the intolerable, has become our job as much as decoding and deciding what to read has. Vile. Repulsive. Stay strong. Please. We all have your back.

  9. Wow. All I can do is echo what everyone else has already said. Such egregious actions are shocking and have no place in civil discourse. You did the right thing in reporting to the police. Thank you for sharing and making us all think about how we can help combat such appalling – and frightening – behavior.

  10. Unbelievable that death threats are part of sharing your ideas and love of teaching on a blog. I’m glad you chose not to ignore it. Your voice will not be silenced.

  11. Pernille, I am so sorry you had to read something like that on your blog!! You definitely did the right thing by calling the police. I admire you and what you do, take care of yourself and your family.

  12. Pernille,
    My guess is this post will bring a huge outpouring of support of you, what you stand for, and what you have to share with those of us who look forward to reading your posts. I want to add mine!

    Thank you once again for being the proverbial “slap upside the head” as you point out this disheartening reality of police involvement because “you just don’t know…”. And, more importantly, the need for us to not accept these behaviors as the way it is.

    My students and I will add you and your family to our prayer wall during our morning prayers tomorrow.

  13. Knock on wood*** Luckily I have yet to come across these comments on here but I endured similar ones on another site.

    I probably would have just a turned a blind eye. Or petty me would have indulged but it’s probably better that you did report it. You can never be too safe in today’s world!

  14. THank you for posting, thank you for acting against bullies, thank you for inspiring others to stand up against this new “normal”.
    Stay strong and stay gold!

  15. Thank you for saying something. When we all hold people accountable I have to believe it will improve. Shine a light when people hide in darkness.

  16. Thanks for the courage to share. Too much hatred in the world and most of us have become comfortably numb to it. You reflect hits home. Nobody should have to hear such hate. Please keep being a beacon our students can look to for encouragement and love.

  17. yes, keep writing! I do not understand this world and its gross, nasty inhabitants. I do not understand how a person has the guts to write such horrible words to someone else. But just because we don’t understand it, it does not mean we have to live in fear and silence and not fighting it. You did the right thing. And I hope the police will get to the roots of this. Many hugs!

  18. Thanks for sharing this Pernille! I am sorry that one of the hateful minority has targeted you. The positive majority needs your voice and endless inspiration. Please be sure to continue to put yourself and your family first! Thinking of you all.

  19. What horrible comments. I’m glad you reported them; someone must be really full of bitterness, and very ignorant, to say those things. As a husband myself, I can imagine the anger your husband felt.

  20. I guess I don’t understand why someone would attack you in the first place. Your blog is that of best practices for the ELA community. I don’t find you controversial in any way. Who sends these types of threats to a teacher / author/ blogger? It doesn’t make sense! I’m so sorry that this happened to you.

  21. Have the police checked the computer address and found the writer? If the writer is from another state, that adds another dimension to the crime. Death threats and threats to your minor children should be prosecuted.

  22. I’m a recently retired teacher in Brazil, now dedicated to research and authoring on learning processes. Thanks for sharing that bitter experience with us, your readers, your peers. I’m sure our community (of teachers around the world) stands by you/your family’s side and I strongly believe that a top quality police investigation will get to the root of this shameful and disgusting event. Allow me to quote Christopher Carlyle, one of your readers above, “(…) for reasons I cannot fathom, teaching (…) people the right way to behave, and to not tolerate the intolerable, has become our job (…)”. Yes, ma’am, just like all good teachers, you’re that important brick in the wall of the nifty building called society, which we’re ceaseless trying to construct. Please keep on with your great job which echoes in Brazil, too. You surely make the difference!

  23. I know you reported this to the police, but just in case a student or student’s parent is responsible for the e-mails, make sure you tell your principal and the principal of your daughter’s school, especially since you said she was being bullied. Your principal (s) should also make your superintendent aware.

  24. Thank you for your bravery. And I totally resonate with what you said–that “while I didn’t feel much safer, I did feel right.”

  25. What an outrage! I’m so glad you reported it, but I am also glad you wrote this post. It is not OK! And it’s time to say that loud and clear!

  26. You did the right thing. I have been thinking about this too as I read Chelsea Clinton’s twitter feed and the just awful things people say to and about her. She responds with kindness every time. I am worried about odd comments I get so I can imagine as a mom and such a well known writer, you are more than that. Here’s wishing you peace.

  27. You are absolutely right! These ‘comments’ are not okay at all. They may seem like fun and jokes but they are extremely harmful, especially to women and teenagers. Lord knows we already deal with enough in the real world too. Thanks for highlighting this!

    1. Threats are never fun and jokes. Death threats and threats to harm a person or minor child are very serious. The police (or FBI if it’s across state lines) needs to investigate and prosecute so these perpetrators stop.

  28. It is not ok for someone to take that feeling of safety away from you. I am so glad you decided to take on the “what if” even without knowing who. Thank you as always for sharing your truth with us.

Leave a Reply to Nancy Hagerty Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s