Law Enforcement Must Adopt A Zero-Tolerance Policy For School Threats

Three area youths were taken for mental health evaluations after making threats toward their respective high schools last week that caused lockouts at Chautauqua Lake Central School, Randolph Academy and the Erie-2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES Hewes Center.

It doesn’t appear there will be any criminal charges against the youths. We think that is the wrong path to take.

Time was when some leniency could be shown in such cases. Students who called in bomb threats or triggered fire alarms could be suspended, even expelled, from school and that would put an end to it. In few such cases did the perpetrators really intend to do harm to anyone.

That time is long past. Too many children have been massacred in school shootings for anyone threatening violence to be let off easy, regardless of their motivation.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who murdered 17 people at a Florida high school last week, might have been stopped had numerous warnings — including an online vow to “become a professional school shooter” — been dealt with decisively.

Schools and law enforcement officials simply must adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward potential threats. The sooner juveniles see that being done, the sooner frivolous threats will stop. Expelling the students and felony charges are likely too harsh, but perhaps additional school time and a misdemeanor charge would be enough to teach these youths, and others who threaten the safety of their teachers and classmates, a much-needed lesson.

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