We’ve heard the reports of those student pranks that go too far. Some shattered windows at one school. The chopping down of trees on another campus.
Harmless fun? Hardly. Both those examples resulted in real damage to school property, and students were punished.
But what about a threat of violence written on a school wall? Perhaps it was meant as a joke, intended only to disrupt school for a day. But if that was the case in two incidents in Cabell County high schools last week, the perpetrators miscalculated badly.
To school officials and law enforcement agencies, such threats simply cannot be viewed as harmless. In this era, after numerous high-profile killings in schools across the country, they must be taken seriously.
That’s what local authorities did last week.
A student at Huntington High School and another at Cabell Midland High School now face felony charges of making terroristic threats.
Some might view the level of charges against these two students as extreme. But threatening violence at a school — where students should be focused on learning rather than worrying about their safety — is indeed worthy of a serious charge, certainly more than a 10-day suspension. While some may view Columbine and Sandy Hook as isolated instances, they are not.
A recent report by the Washington Post spelled out that since the Connecticut killings, 33 shootings have occurred on public school or college campuses, with 12 of those resulting in at least homicide. The context of what’s happened across the nation cannot be ignored, and the consequences for threatening violence in schools should be serious, including the involvement of law enforcement agencies.
In regard to the two Cabell County incidents, we credit both school officials and police for reacting appropriately.
Cabell County Schools officials no doubt have informed their students about the potential consequences of violent threats, whether real or just a lark. However, they may want to review how that message can be reinforced in the future. Students, and their parents, should take note of what has happened in these two cases. Two students face potentially serious black marks on their records — blemishes that could have repercussions for years to come.
— The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington