Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 19, 2013

A clear message

Arrests should discourage more threats at area schools

The Independent

ASHLAND — The quick arrests of juveniles in connection with threats made at Greenup County High School in Lloyd and at West Carter High School in Olive Hill is the best thing police could have done to stop the spread of such threats to other area schools. The fact that those arrested have been charged with felonies send a clear message that police, school officials and prosecutors consider their alleged actions much more serious than minor “pranks” hatched by immature teens.

Kentucky State Police officers arrested a 17-year-old Greenup County High student in connection with two phoned-in threats to the school. The student is accused of texting a bomb threat to the high school on Monday and a threat of an imminent shooting on Tuesday.

Police have charged 13 students in connection with a rash of bomb and gun threats at West Carter High. The fact that so many students have been charged in connection with the threats is a clear indication that this was a rather organized attempt to disrupt the Olive Hill high school and alarm students. We would be surprised if those charged remain united in their efforts to conceal their actions, and if some sort of conspiracy was involved, investigators and school leaders soon will learn more and more details regarding it.

Anonymous threats to schools, businesses and other locations are nothing new. In fact, this newspaper has a policy of not writing stories about such threats in the belief that such publicity only encourages more threats. If those making the threats are seeking attention, we don’t want to give it to them.

Of course, if the threat is validated, we do publicize it, but that is extremely rare. Most threats prove to be groundless, as was the case at West Carter and at Greenup County. There were no shootings at either school and no explosive devices or weapons of any kind were found. For that, we are thankful, but not surprised.

Nevertheless, the threats were disruptive, forcing school officials to secure areas and temporarily move students, teachers and other school personnel to other locations. The teaching, test-taking, socializing and other activities that normally take place in any high school came to a halt, if only temporarily.

All of those charged in connection with the threats are juveniles, and as a result, we will not publish their names unless their cases are moved out of juvenile court, which seems doubtful. We do not know of the evidence police have against the teenagers and are in no position of knowing whether they are innocent or guilty.

However, we do hope that the arrests have sent a loud message to area residents of all ages that  bomb threats are no longer considered minor pranks pulled by immature kids. The rash of school violence throughout the country in recent years demands that police and school officials take all threats seriously and move quickly to protect those in the school. Those who would call in idle threats need to know that such actions could result  in stern punishment.

Our bet is that we won’t be having more threats made to area schools. The arrest of 14 teens on serious charges likely have assured that.