After the Virginia Tech massacre and the eighth anniversary of the Columbine High School bloodbath, edgy school officials are not taking chances, but are wondering how far to go, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Larance Johnson of the School Violence Resource Center at the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Arkansas said inappropriate comments and threats from youths are “like an epidemic right now. Some kids think it’s funny, a way of getting out of class, but authorities have to take it seriously.” One Philadelphia-area community college system was shut down for a week after faculty members received e-mails “threatening to kill everyone.” Purses and backpacks were banned, and metal detectors were installed.
“You can’t make an off-the-wall crack about explosives or terrorists in the airport, and that’s the climate in schools since Columbine and Virginia Tech,” said Kenneth Trump of National School Safety & Security Services, a consulting firm in Cleveland. “Nine out of 10 threats are unfounded, but nobody wants to be number 10.” Johnson said the security concerns on school campuses now go beyond zero tolerance for weapons, to the content of verbal and written communications. “You can find things in what they say and write,” she said. “If you are writing specific details on how to execute something, schools should take it seriously.”