JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County school administrators are fed up with fake bomb threats and they’re asking parents to play a role in stopping the trend.
Administrators said they are so upset about fake bomb threats that, in response to a threat last month, they proposed limited access to cellphones.
Tuesday, Darnell-Cookman Middle-High School of the Medical Arts experienced its seventh false bomb threat this school year, up from five last school year, and zero the year before.
The school now has the most bomb threats out of any in the district.
After a threat last month, Principal Carol Daniels sent a letter to parents with proposals to curb the number of threats. They included:
- Eliminating all hallway access during class time, except for approved restroom visits and emergencies.
- Keeping students in cafeterias during lunch.
- Limiting the use of all electronic devices, including cellphones.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said he thinks the plans could work.
“Well, that may have an impact, because about 30 percent of the bomb threats called in the high schools are called in from someone there at the school,” he said.
News4Jax learned another disturbing fact about school bomb threats.
“This is not just a problem in Jacksonville. In fact, there has been an increase in bomb threats in 20 different countries around the world,” Smith said.
But here in the U.S., Florida ranks fourth in the country when it comes to fake bombs threats at school. From 2012 to 2015, there was a 100 percent increase in school bomb threats around the state.
“One reason for that is a technique known as swatting, where people are calling in bomb threats via the internet," Smith said. "In fact, one day last year, one person called into about 70 schools all at once, so that’s why you have an increase. Florida, in particular, is one state where there is a very sharp increase.”
There’s also a myth that threats are only called during final exam weeks.
“But actually, September, October and April are three months where you have the highest number of bomb threats, so it’s not something that’s done because of finals week or exam time,” Smith said.
Smith said another problem the bomb threats brings are also diverting first responders from actual emergencies where someone’s life could be on the line.