THE MAGAZINE

Bomb threats in school

If a student says to a gym teacher, “All jocks should be blown up,” should it be taken as a threat? Probably not if the student was laughing or obviously joking, but if the student has a history of making such pronouncements, the school might want to treat it as a legitimate threat. In general, the more specific the threat, the more seriously it should be taken, according to one of the latest entries into the Department of Justice’s Problem-Oriented Guides for Police, called “Bomb Threats in Schools.” The guide discusses the problem of bomb threats in schools, factors contributing to such threats, the right questions for administrators to ask themselves about the problem, and possible initiatives to prevent or respond to threats. Sixteen viable initiatives are presented, 9 involving prevention, 7 involving immediate response. For example, schools can develop a bomb-threat response plan. The guide points to an online tool developed by the Department of Homeland Security in conjunction with the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology for training and refresher courses on response planning. Immediate responses to a bomb threat may include recording the threat, analyzing it, evacuating the school, searching for a bomb, talking to the media, following up after the incident, and placing police officers in schools. The guide is on SM Online.

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