Schools in three West Virginia counties and three in Ohio were evacuated or subjected to other emergency measures Monday after threats to harm students were made.
Clearly, all six situations were related to the massacre of students and teachers the previous Friday in Newtown, Conn.
This past week, schools were locked down in Wood County, Pleasants County, Wirt County, Belpre and Federal Hocking due to rumors of violence circulating through social media or bomb threats. In every case, no credible threat has yet been found. In addition, a high school student in Wayne County, W.Va., made a threat. In Wirt and Mercer counties, bomb threats were received.
In Hamilton County, Ohio, a man declared on a Facebook post that he was so sick of comments about the Connecticut massacre that he wanted to shoot children himself.
In Springfield, Ohio, a high school student posted on Facebook that he could "do better" than the Connecticut murderer. In Willoughby, Ohio, school officials received a threat someone planned to take a gun and a bomb to a middle school. Neither was found in a search of the school.
It may be that the Hamilton County man was merely engaging in distasteful hyperbole. But in the other situations, concrete threats were made.
In at least two of the cases, including Wirt County, students responsible for making the threats were found by police.
Whether to take action against the students is up to school officials and law enforcement authorities, of course. A variety of factors, including intent, will have to be taken into account.
But in any such situation where it can be demonstrated more than bad judgment was to blame, severe punishment should be meted out to the offenders. For one reason or another, they took advantage of a horrific crime in attempts to incite panic among people in West Virginia and Ohio.
Unfortunately, bomb threats have become fairly regular occurrences at schools. School and law enforcement officials here seem to have handled them well, sometimes finding and punishing those responsible.
Again, however, what happened this past week was different. In the context of the Connecticut murders, threats involving schools were at a much higher level of seriousness. That should be taken into account in deciding how or if to punish those who made the threats.