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OPINION

EDITORIAL: Bomb threats no joke

York Dispatch
  • Recent bomb threats are considered a joke by those who made them.
  • Fake threats carry real costs: time, money and the psychological toll they take.
  • Parents can band together with administrators and authorities to educate kids on the consequences.

It’s been a long time, but we remember middle school. It’s a rite of passage traversed through the major fog of social, psychological and physical changes.

This Sept. 20, 2016 file photo shows an officer outside Eastern York Middle School after the school was evacuated because of a written bomb threat discovered there that day. Dawn J. Sagert photo

It’s not easy.

So it’s not surprising that middle school is the setting for four fake bomb threats made of the past two weeks in the Eastern York School District. A fifth, this past Friday, occurred at the high school. Students who have been caught have been suspended, though not all have been caught — some of the copycats remain unpunished.

While educators, administrators and authorities agree that these threats are viewed as mere jokes by the middle school pranksters, those in charge also highlight the very real consequences suffered by students, parents and authorities because of such shenanigans.

Eastern York High School evacuated

Let us add our voices of admonishment to the chorus last week: Your thoughtless threats cause real suffering. The time wasted is bad enough, but the psychological toll these activities take on students — and families — can result in traumatic fallout.

The threats cost precious school resources: much-needed  learning and teaching time, but also taxpayer money — thousands of dollars per threat — that could and should be better spent on educating students.

These threats also result in less quantifiable — but no less critical — costs. For instance, these events have the potential to create a dangerous environment in which some might be less likely to take future bomb threats seriously.

Additionally, the underlying fear that the fake threats probably are not but could be real takes a psychological toll on all.

The district faces a very real set of challenges. It must get through to students predisposed to engage in such pranks, and that’s not easy. Perhaps some of the legal ramifications in addition to suspension — and whatever consequences await students at home — will be a deterrent for others.

The real cost of fake bomb threats

Students who make bomb threats can face charges for making terroristic threats and disorderly conduct. We hope the severity makes an impression.

Parents can help the school district by talking to children about these incidents. While it might seem like a joke to a middle- or high-school mind, parents can provide some preemptive information about the psychological and financial toll bomb threats take.

If that’s not stark enough, perhaps legal charges and their cost could do the trick.

The high-profile nature of the threats at Eastern York provide the perfect opportunity to talk to kids and help them realize that fake threats carry a very real cost.