Opinion

Threats of school violence must be taken seriously

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — 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. At Huntington High, a female student wrote on a bathroom wall Thursday that a shooting would take place at the school at 2 p.m. that day. The next day, a male student wrote violent threats on a restroom wall and in other locations at Cabell Midland.

An investigation determined that the first one was not considered a credible threat, and the second was viewed by investigators as a “copy-cat” incident. But school officials and police have no choice but to react to the threats as if they are real…

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