Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A threat is no joke

The no-nonsense response by Blaine County School District officials to the anonymous note threatening a campus shooting last month deserves a round of robust cheers. It's a welcome signal that threats of any sort—serious or just plain mischievous—are no laughing matter and will not be tolerated.

With the arrival of Hailey police and a virtual all-points deployment of officers to prevent a shooting and to find the author of the note, the matter took on a seriousness that should impress students throughout the valley that a campus is for learning, not for off-target jokes that can terrify a community.

Wood River High and the school district did what other schools elsewhere in the nation have regretted they didn't do when threats of campus violence were treated as juvenile horseplay. Incidents of shootings, even campus massacres, have left a bloody legacy for educators to ponder with grief and regret.

Now it's up to the criminal justice system to deal with the 15-year-old who allegedly wrote the note and whose handwriting, ferreted out by the Canyon County Sheriff's Office's skilled technicians, betrayed him. A slap on the wrist will have no lasting effect and could only encourage some other foolhardy student to test school security.

Parents who expect and demand classroom discipline and campus order as environments in which learning is paramount should be staunch supporters of tough punishment—and psychological treatment—in this case. Waving off a shooting threat as mere kids' stuff and part of growing up would be nonsense.

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