Bomb threats are serious and should be treated as such

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Last week two Brunswick County Academy students were arrested for their alleged role in a bomb threat last Thursday at the school. Charges are pending against three other juveniles.

The threat, the sixth for the school district this school year, is being taken seriously, and the associated punishment is—and should be—reflective of that.

Bomb threats are not pranks. When a threat is received by school or law enforcement officials, a series of events swing into place to analyze the potential harm.

Students are evacuated from buildings; law enforcement and other emergency service officials arrive on scene. 

In the last two threats, from the time a threat was received until a school building was cleared took about 70 minutes. While that is an impressive time to mobilize such a large-scale safety effort, it’s 70 minutes too long for students to be out of class.

It’s 70 minutes too long for teachers and school officials to be away from what they should be doing—educating our students.

And it’s 70 minutes area law enforcement and emergency service personnel should be using to do other things to keep this community safe.

It’s no joke. It’s not a prank. It’s expensive in terms of manpower, resources, salaries and school time lost.

We’re glad to see school officials are taking each threat seriously and are going through all the necessary steps to keep students safe. As our country has seen too many times, all it takes is one misstep and an entire community can be forever changed.

What’s disappointing is this has happened six times this school year, especially since school has only been in session since Aug. 25.

Last week, superintendent Edward Pruden sent a call out to parents asking them to talk with their children about the seriousness of such behaviors. In addition to facing a 365-day school suspension, perpetrators can face jail time and fines and may even have to pay restitution for expenses incurred during false alarms.

What parent wants to deal with that?

Worse yet, what parent wants to deal with something like this being real?

And while parents should be busy talking to their children about the serious nature of these situations, students should continue to remain vigilant in school and out. Whenever threats are overheard or perceived, students should feel comfortable in sharing that information with a trusted adult, school official or law enforcement representative. 

No bit of information should be perceived as invaluable. If a student witnesses or overhears something that makes him or her uncomfortable, an adult should be told immediately.

It’s always best to err on the side of safety instead of being later regretful.

Parents, if you haven’t done so already, take the time to talk to your children about threats, bullying and school violence. You never know when it is something that could become all too real for our young people.

Students, stay alert. Tell an adult about things that concern or frighten you. We’d rather see 70 minutes be put to use ensuring all children are safe than have them wasted on pranks.