Students May Be Charged With Terrorism
At least five times in the last two months; Instagram, Yik Yak, and social networking sites have been used by students in San Diego to make bomb threats at area schools. I have heard this compared to generations of previous students pulling the school’s fire alarms. This analogy is incorrect.
The heartbreaking school shootings that have left the country in mourning, 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and most recently the massacre at Charlie Hebdo have left people with very little tolerance for threats of violence. Where once school officials and law enforcement may have been able to punish a student who pulled a fire alarm with detention and a warning, authorities now implement serious consequences.
- The teenagers making the threats may be charged with terrorism and their parents may be sued for cost recovery for the school time and law enforcement time that was lost to these threats.
- The teenagers who made the bomb threats may have their future academic and employment opportunities negatively impacted when background checks, including a simple Google search, is initiated.
Additional consequences are less obvious but just as far reaching:
- School closing for a few days.
- Parents rushing to schools in a panic to pick their children up in the middle of the day. This amounts to loss of productivity and a smaller pay check for some parents.
- San Diego’s police department is under staffed and is the smallest police force in the United States for a city of its size. The police power it took to discover the threats were unfounded took police away from finding real criminals. This has cost the department and therefore tax payers a significant amount of money and some degree of safety.
The power of today’s technology is literally in the palm of our hands. Teaching kids to respect this power and use it for good is the mission of SafetyNet® and the responsibility of parents. We emphasize consequences, many of which cannot be completely understood by teens. The supposed “anonymity” of the Internet is a fallacy. Those who post threats online can be traced and will be punished… and that punishment will follow them for the rest of their lives, as social media has a vivid memory.
Darlene Kanzler, MA, is the Director of the San Diego Police Foundation's SafetyNet(R): Smart Cyber Choices program. Since 2010, she has educated more than 100,000 parents, teachers, and community members in San Diego County about the benefits of safe and sane internet practices for children.