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PARENTS have a lot of influence on kids, whether it seems like it or not. They should use that influence now, today, to debunk a rumor that is sending waves of fear through local students: There is no evidence that the world will end on Dec. 21.
Popular movies and Internet websites (including YouTube) have presented "credible" (but only to the gullible) evidence that the Mayans believed the world would end on Dec. 21, and/or that a mysterious planet called Nibiru is targeting Earth for destruction. Neither story is true. NASA provides the proof:
On the Mayan calendar: "Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then--just as your calendar begins again on January 1-- another long-count period begins for the Mayan calendar."
On Nibiru: "The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. Nibiru and other stories about wayward planets are an Internet hoax. If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth in 2012, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye."
Just to exacerbate the tension, rumors of violence at schools nationwide on Dec. 21 are sweeping the Internet, forcing local school officials to ramp up security measures. Spotsylvania County School Superintendent Scott Baker sent out a message on Wednesday morning informing parents of the unfounded rumors and promising extra security from the Sheriff's Office. King George High School Principal Clifton Conway had to address the same rumors last week, on the day before the Newtown school shootings.
People of any age are prone to mass hysteria. The Sandy Hook massacre, along with movies and the Internet, has plowed the fertile ground of students' imaginations and left them ripe for seeding with rumors. The watering and fertilizing are coming from alarmists and mischief makers.
Parents and other responsible adults need to step in. And if they need more evidence to present to teens, here it is: The 800,000 Mayans living today in Mexico's Yucatan Valley aren't preparing for The End. In the words of one modern Mayan woman, "Why get panicky? If something is going to happen, it's going to happen." In fact, archaeologists don't believe the culture ever set an apocalyptic date.
So tell your kids to stop panicking about Dec. 21. Instead, worry about a real threat--like texting while driving.