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School violence threats should be handled sternly

In the wake of two recent shootings, there has been an uptick in threats related to gun violence.

The issue of school shootings hit uncomfortably close to home earlier this month when a 15-year-old student allegedly opened fire at Marshall County High School, killing 18 people. And on Feb. 14, a 19-year-old former student of a Parkland, Florida, high school did the same, leaving 17 dead and others injured.

Since then, Kentucky has seen multiple threats posted to social media and in other forms from all across the state.

So far, threats have been reported in Campbell, Pendleton, Scott, Franklin, Anderson, Jessamine, Madison, Estill, Rowan, Boyd, Lincoln, Rockcastle, Laurel, Pulaski, Clay, Knox, Whitley, Wayne, Perry, Letzter, Barren, Larue, Bullit, Jefferson, Daviess and Henderson counties. All of these were made in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

Some of these threats were substantiated and others were not.

In many cases, officers were able to open an investigation immediately and arrest a suspect within hours.

While all of these suspects are innocent until proven guilty, anyone who is found to be responsible for such threats should be charged with a crime and made to withstand the consequences.

We understand these are juveniles and those cases must be handled with extra consideration — particularly as it pertains to the mental development of young people. However, these threats are not something to take lightly.

Students must begin to understand that any sort of threat will be taken seriously and will result in charges that can affect them for the rest of their lives. Beyond the severity of being charged with a crime, all students need to be reminded violence, especially gun violence, and especially in fragile times like these, is never something to be joked about.

Furthermore, parents, other students, administrators and community members must continue to report any suspicious behavior, messages, social media post, etc. We have to remain aware and alert to the real dangers that are facing our schools.

What happened in Marshall County, in Parkland, at Columbine and at dozens of other schools in recent years could happen anywhere. If Congress is not yet willing to act to better protect our schools, it is up to each local district and each student and each parent. We must train our students, teachers and community how to respond to these incidents. We must continue to act quickly in defusing these threats.

Whatever measures we can take to protect our students and schools are steps worth taking.