Editorial – Safety threats against SPS must end

Published 5:16 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2024

So far, in 2024, there have been more than five safety threats against Suffolk Public Schools. Fortunately, all were deemed a hoax – likely a ploy to get out of class or school, but we are merely speculating on the reasoning here. Unless the perpetrator is apprehended, we have no concrete evidence of why these threats are being made. 

Making safety threats against a school poses severe risks, jeopardizing the well-being of students, staff, and the entire school community. Such threats can manifest through various means, including verbal expressions, written messages, or gestures. Threat assessment processes have been established to evaluate these threats within their context and determine their credibility. The consequences of making safety threats are dire and extend beyond the immediate fear instilled in the school environment.

Safety threats create an environment of fear and anxiety, affecting both students and staff. The fear of potential harm can lead to emotional distress, impacting the mental well-being of those involved.

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Schools are meant to be safe spaces for learning and personal development. Safety threats disrupt this conducive environment, hindering the educational process and impeding the overall growth of students.

Addressing safety threats requires deploying significant resources, including the involvement of teachers, administrators, counselors, law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel, and other school personnel. This diverts attention and resources away from the primary focus of education and the protection of our community.

Perpetrators of safety threats can face serious legal consequences. Threat assessment and management involve prompt and efficient investigation, leading to potential legal actions against those responsible. For example, Virginia Code § 18.2-83 says, A. Any person (i) who makes and communicates to another by any means any threat to bomb, burn, destroy or in any manner damage any place of assembly, building or other structure, or any means of transportation, or (ii) who communicates to another, by any means, information, knowing the same to be false, as to the existence of any peril of bombing, burning, destruction or damage to any such place of assembly, building or other structure, or any means of transportation, is guilty of a Class 5 felony, provided, however, that if such person is under 15 years of age, he is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. B. A violation of this section may be prosecuted either in the jurisdiction from which the communication was made or in the jurisdiction where the communication was received.”

Furthermore, Incidents involving safety threats can tarnish the reputation of the school. The perception of a lack of safety may deter prospective students and create concerns among parents and the broader community.

Making safety threats against a school not only instigates fear and anxiety but also has far-reaching consequences that extend to the overall educational environment, resource allocation, legal ramifications, and the school’s reputation – in short, it is plain old dumb. It is imperative to foster a culture of safety and open communication within schools to prevent such threats and ensure the well-being of everyone involved.