Change Restrictive Threat Prevention Policies In Bedford High School
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The Bedford High School has been experiencing an increased number of bomb threats in bathrooms. In recent weeks, the administration has put a number of rules in place in an attempt to deal with this problem.
Several bomb threats have been discovered in the bathrooms of Bedford High School. Although this has been an ongoing issue for several years, there has been a spike in the number of discovered threats in the recent weeks. The administration became justifiably annoyed due to the fact that we must evacuate the entire school if the threat has any form of credibility to err on the side of caution. In backlash to the people who have been writing the threats the school administration imposed several rules upon the students and staff of Bedford High School. These rules include:
- Students must fill out a mandatory sign out sheet when leaving the classroom (name, date, time in, and time out).
- Students in a managed time block must stay in either a classroom with approval from a teacher, the commons, the library, or Bulldog Corner.
- Students must stay in their classroom, commons, or chosen managed time area until the bell rings.
- A student's bathroom usage is limited to five minutes.
- Teachers must monitor the halls and check bathrooms periodically when they are not teaching a class. These teachers are known as "wanderers".
- Students are not permitted to stay after school unless they are with a supervisor such as a coach or teacher. Students are allowed to stay in the library.
There could be several motives for the people who are writing these threats including, but not limited to bullying, trying to get out of class, attention/fame, inciting fear, or just pure psychopathy. Although we as innocents cannot see into the minds of the criminals that commit these crimes, it is pretty clear that the aforementioned motives are the primary cause of any situation like this.
The easiest motive to address is attention/fame. To eliminate this motive, we must turn to the community. Teachers, students, parents, and friends. It is imperative that we do not encourage, joke about, or even mention the idea of writing these threats. We must not have members of the BHS community finding it humorous or glorious to commit these heinous crimes.
Next is the issue of bullying. Some people might feel so battered and victimized that they want to get back at the school and the bullies or even feel like they have nothing to lose. Although there is not as much bullying at Bedford High as some other schools, all of us have seen it happen on campus one point or another. Again, the community must support each other. If you find someone that is being bullied or harassed, stand up for them. Even though it might seem difficult because you might lose friends or popularity, it is the right thing to do. Nobody likes a bully. As a member of this community, I have noticed that in general we are not tolerant of bullying or harassment. Thus, you will be seen as a better person in general on top of helping a peer out. Bullying also leads to depression and hatred. Both students and teachers must look for signs of depression in their peers and report it immediately. I know that it is a difficult thing to do, but we cannot let someone go through depression alone. Following these general guidelines will not only eliminate a motive for a bomb threat, but also improve our community as a whole.
Lastly is the "getting out of class" motive. This is certainly a difficult issue to address. On the one hand, we could ignore all threats unless they have very clear viability and there is imminent danger, but on the other hand if we ignore a threat that has backing and there is an incident... Horrible is a severe understatement. We must find a clear middle ground. A threat like "4th Block. Run." or a "mushroom cloud" should probably be investigated before evacuating the whole school. Having a search dog to scan through the school while not disturbing classes would be a good start. Although I am by no means a professional on bombs or policing, it would certainly be an easy way to investigate threats that have very little viability while not drawing significant attention to the issue.
The Problem With the Current Rules:
We all have to appreciate the administration's efforts at least a little. However the issue is that there are several loopholes in their plan on top of punishing the 99% of us who have nothing to do with the situation. Loopholes in the rules could be the downfall to this plan. As much as we want to catch these criminals, it is still very easy for one to get away with writing a threat. To bypass the sign out sheet, a student could simply pretend to sign out. Obviously it would be ridiculous to ask a teacher to stop their lesson just to check the sign out sheet every time a student leaves the room. This also applies to the Commons and the library. Also, students can simply write threats in between classes. This is a major issue because every student is in the halls in between classes and we can obviously not place cameras in bathrooms. This is illegal under RSA 644:9. The same applies to before and and after school. Students freely roam the halls with no regulations or supervision. I can certainly understand that students should be expected to stay in class until the bell. It is class time until the bell rings and teachers deserve their entire block to teach.
Another major issue is lunch. We are held until the end of the lunch block, then once the bell rings the entire lunch block tries to get to their class while the new lunch block is also trying to rush in so that they can eat without being late to class. This caused serious issues today (the first day of the new rules) because half of the school was being shuffled like cattle through the cafeteria. This led to several body checks, tripping, claustrophobia, and absolutely zero fun. We really have to look at the risk of injury compared to the risk of a bomb being planted in our school. There are four grade levels ranging from students as young as 14 all the way to 18 years old. There are larger people and smaller people. Some people are on crutches or have some form of restrictive handicap. This situation is not safe at all. Third block is certainly the time that the school is most vulnerable to illegal activity so it is understandable that security should be increased. But is this really necessary?
Students' Complaints and their Reasons
Obviously most students are opposed to this. As a student, I feel like my freedoms have been stripped and I am being punished for things that I did not do. I think most of my fellow students feel the same way and those feelings will be reflected through the signatures on this petition. We all understand that managed time is a privilege and not a right. We all understand that we are certainly a more relaxed school than most others. But we also do not want to lose our privileges over crimes that 99% of us did not commit. Bedford High School has been known for the hard work, dedication, intelligence, and friendly community that we foster. However now we are seen as trashy and out of control. What has made us one of the best schools in New England? We promote free thinking and free movement, encourage hard work, and most importantly teach students how to be independent. Managed time, the "class" that has received the brunt of the damage from these rules, was the best way that students could establish independence. If a student had all their work done, they were allowed to go for walks, hangout with friends, and feel free. If a student needed to get work done, they could go to the academic center or visit a teacher to get help. If they needed to print something but also wanted to be with their friends, a student could print to the library, go get their paper, then freely go back to their friend group. And the thing is that not everyone has a managed time. A student must keep their conduct and grades up in order to prevent their managed time from being lost. This offered an incentive to succeed. The better you do at school, the more freedoms you have. And this applies to life as well. A felon, for example, is not legally allowed to own a firearm. However if a citizen stays away from crime and works hard, they can have freedoms such as these. Why not encourage this mindset now? Why throw away our reputation and strip students of their freedoms, making them feel like cattle moving from pen to pen? We all want the threats to stop. But right now we feel like our school has been turned into a prison. The amount of times I heard the words "juvenile detention", "prison", and "gulag" today was astounding. So speaking for the petitioners, please consider this if you decide to revise this plan. And to students, if your opinion was not voiced in this section, please feel free to contact me and I will try my best to express it to our administration.
A New Plan:
As a student as well as an aspiring police officer, I believe that the solution that I am about to propose would satisfy a larger amount of people than the current plan as well as be more effective. First, I think that cameras need to be installed OUTSIDE the bathrooms. This would help significantly because there is only one entrance/exit to every bathroom in the school. Being able to see who enters and exits would give administration clear evidence for prosecution and also give a reliable time for when the student entered and exited.
Next, I believe that an officer should be on campus at all times and a police K9 should be easily accessible to conduct quick searches and investigate basic threats. Obviously a threat that is called in, has specific info to increase viability, etc. should be investigated more thoroughly than something like "Boom" written on the wall of a stall.
I would also recommend getting a specific team to work security if it is really necessary. However, doing this will also reflect on our reputation as well as the feeling of students. We obviously do not want to be seen as a messed up school and also do not want students feeling unsafe. Although this might sound like a stretch, maybe we should start a club/team for issues like this. Students could be tasked with checking the bathrooms occasionally and being on alert for public safety issues. Obviously we should not task a student with defusing a bomb or anything but maybe utilizing the student body to gather information could offer more insight since it is most likely their peers who are writing the threats. I do not think that recruitment would be to hard as we all just want our independence back. This is not a suggestion that I would want to push too adamantly, however. I understand that there might be many legal and moral issues but I would like the administration to consider it.
In terms of students, I think that we need to open up the halls and allow students to move freely again. This is the main issue that has led to so much protest. Pretty much any other solution would be better in a student's mind than what is being imposed right now.
And also to the administration, I really think that it needs to be made clear what the implications are for these threats. I remember during 8th grade when this started the principal gave a very firm speech over the intercom about what will happen to the student who composed the threat. Please refer to the "Note to the Criminals" below.
A Note to Teachers:
I certainly cannot speak for teachers as a student, but it is not a teacher's job to work security. That is the job of the police and security guards. Teachers teach. We do not pay them our tax money to work as a detective. I would like to hear teachers' opinions on this, however I understand that speaking out about this puts your job at risk. If you wish to have anything voiced anonymously, please let me know. Thank you.
Note to Criminals:
I am not sure what your motive is for committing these atrocious crimes, but it needs to stop. You have damaged the community, hurt your fellow students, and incited fear amongst the public. You are a terrorist. And once you are found, you will be prosecuted appropriately. You can be charged with criminal mischief (vandalism) under RSA 634:2, criminal threatening under RSA 631:4, and DOMESTIC TERRORISM which is a FEDERAL OFFENSE under Section 802 of the USA Patriot Act. I guarantee you the prosecution will be ruthless and once you are caught, should you choose to continue this behavior, you will be facing life-destroying charges. If you think that this "funny" or "cool", it isn't and never has been. And now that you've impacted your fellow students I assure you that outside of whatever gang of little criminals that you're in, nobody likes what you are doing. If you need help because you are suffering from bullying, depression, or anything else, please seek out help. There are so many resources available nowadays to assist you. But this really needs to stop now. If you are really stupid enough to keep testing the waters, especially with administration on high alert, you WILL be caught eventually and you WILL face the aforementioned punishment. Stop.
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