No tolerance for anyone who makes bomb threats
We are a little more than two weeks into the school year and school officials and law enforcement authorities are dealing with bomb threats and safety issues.
At a press conference held at the Florence One Schools District Office, on Aug. 28, Interim Florence County Sheriff W.C. “Billy” Barnes was joined by Superintendent Richard O’Malley to address the recent threats and to send a message to the public that the behavior will not be tolerated.
On Wednesday, Aug. 21, the third day of school for Florence One Schools, West Florence High School received a telephone threat about an active shooter at West Florence. Law enforcement responded immediately and found that it was nothing more than a hoax.
“The appropriate security was immediately increased and put into place,” Barnes said.
Two juveniles have been arrested, one a student at West Florence and the other a student at another school. Both were charged “with a violation of South Carolina Code of Law 16-17-425, which states it is unlawful for students to make threats to take the life or to inflict bodily harm upon another by using any form of communications.”
The morning of the press conference there was a bomb threat made at South Florence. The interim sheriff said a suspect has been charged and is also “in very serious trouble with the law.”
The West Florence threat was made by phone. The South Florence threat was through a Facebook post.
We are most thankful that both threats turned out to be pranks, if you want to call them that. With all the tragic events at our schools, one would think people would know that doing something as foolish as making a bomb threat is no laughing matter.
Barnes said he was dumbfounded as to why someone would do something “stupid like that.”
“A lot times they’ll be mad at the school system, because they don’t want to go to school,” Barnes said. “A lot of people call bomb threats in and think it’ll empty school and there won’t be any school. It’s just crazy reasons.”
Not only do the threats interrupt the school day and cause considerable worry and concern among students, teachers, staff and parents, but the additional efforts expended by authorities to respond to the threat can be extensive, not to mention costly.
And every threat has to be taken seriously. The one that is not taken seriously may very be the one that ends in tragedy.
“We take every threat to the safety of our students very seriously,” O’Malley said. “We have to act on every threat that’s made. Whether it is made anonymously or whether we think it’s real or not. We have no choice but to take every threat seriously.”
Both the interim sheriff and the superintendent called on parents to step up and talk to their children about the seriousness of making threats.
“I would encourage parents to instruct their children about the appropriate use of telephones and social media and to monitor their children’s social media activity for inappropriate activity or behavior,” Barnes said.
The superintendent closed the press conference by simply saying that it has to stop, period.
“All threats to our schools have got to end,” said O’Malley. “We have the technology and the ability to trace the origin of all of these threats, whether it is by telephone or by social media. The safety and security of our students is our top priority. We have zero tolerance for threats to anybody, and we will prosecute these individuals to the fullest extent of the law.”
We could not agree more.
Our suggestion would be a zero-tolerance policy. While some might see it as a childish prank, it is anything but. The only way to get some to understand that is to make sure they understand that making threats is completely unacceptable, it will not be tolerated, and that the consequences will be severe.
How significant should the disciplinary measures be? A month of detention? A weeklong suspension? Expulsion? That’s up to the school system to decide, but the punishment needs to be enough to be a real deterrent.
We certainly hope and pray that any and all school threats made in the future are found to be not credible. Better yet, we want to see these threats end immediately. The best way to do that is to make sure those considering doing something so foolish understand that they will not be laughing when they are caught.