Far too often in recent months — recent years, in fact — our news pages have had to carry headlines similar to these: “School evacuated by bomb threat” and “Student arrested in bomb threat.”
This isn’t happening somewhere else. It’s happening here, and it has involved several of our area schools. One of the students arrested a few years ago was a sixth-grader.
Why does this happen? What gets into someone’s mind to scrawl a “threatening message” on a restroom wall, as one student was charged with doing here last week?
Some describe such behavior as “a cry for help” or “a plea for attention” and say social issues are involved. That may be true, but the expense and disruption needed to deal with a bomb threat involve far more than social issues.
Those who make bomb threats may need help, but at the same time they are going to get far more attention than they have bargained for. One of the last things a young person should want is an introduction to the criminal justice system, particularly regarding an offense this serious.
Having to deal with bomb threats is expensive. Police and their bomb-detecting equipment and dogs have to be brought in, sometimes from great distances. Such events wreak havoc upon the education process and all the extracurricular activities that go with it.
Law enforcement and school officials are right to take such matters seriously and levy penalties that go beyond a mere scolding and an admonition not to do it again.
Matters being the way they are today, no one can afford to assume a bomb threat is a mere prank. Students who plotted shootings or bombings in other areas have for the most part been caught in time, and this has prevented what otherwise would be an unimaginable tragedy.
Catch and punish those who make bomb threats. Demonstrate to others who might also be tempted that it’s a bad idea. Deterrence and prevention are the best ways to deal with this.