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Never too young to wake up

Published 9:22pm Thursday, June 6, 2013

The culprits might disagree, but the bomb threats plaguing Suffolk’s public middle and high schools are no laughing matter.

What would make them agree are successful prosecutions. If they had to pay fines, restitution and get locked up — all potential punishments — I doubt they would keep laughing.

Everyone loves a prankster. But writing a bomb or shooting threat on a restroom wall is not a prank; it’s a serious crime. That’s especially true in this day and age, with parents and school officials on high alert after last year’s school massacre in Connecticut.

I think that’s something these kids just don’t understand.

It’s hard to understand when you’re a teenager, but poor decisions follow you through life. The poorest decisions stick to you like clay mud.

If you write a bomb threat on a restroom wall, believe it or not, you’re quite likely to get caught. Investigators are much smarter than you think.

When you’re caught and convicted, believe it or not, that mark on your name isn’t going anywhere. Good luck getting a decent job. In fact, good luck with the rest of your life.

Eight students have now been charged in relation to threats against Suffolk schools. Following their pleas, the courts will decide their innocence or guilt. Charged doesn’t mean guilty. If they are found guilty, though, they can expect prosecutors to pursue strict punishments.

I once did a brief stint as a substitute teacher, in a neighboring school district. It was my only experience as a K-12 educator.

It was a tough job. Maybe being a substitute I got less respect and more misbehavior than a regular teacher, but keeping them in line was a constant battle I often gave up on. I adapted to focus on those who wanted to learn something.

One day I was called in for an assistant teacher gig in the alternative school. The teacher with whom I worked, an experienced man and a Navy veteran, was clearly exasperated with the situation. There was little hope of teaching them much at all.

The teacher asked one particularly troublesome boy what he planned to do for a job. The boy replied “hit man,” “rap star” and “pimp,” savoring our reactions as he uttered each vocation.

You’re never too young to wake up.

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