Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

School Threats Prompt Proposals for Tougher Penalties

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

School Threats Prompt Proposals for Tougher Penalties

Article excerpt

HARTFORD, Conn. * Taking a harder line on crimes no longer seen as juvenile pranks, state lawmakers around the U.S. are proposing stiffer penalties for people who threaten schools at a time of fears over terrorism and mass shootings.

As demonstrated by Tuesday's shutdown of Los Angeles schools, threats can cause large, costly disruptions and traumatize students even in cases that might involve hoaxes.

While most states have laws that allow prosecution of a school threat as a felony, there have been proposals across the U.S. to increase punishments, said Michael Dorn, executive director of the school safety nonprofit group Safe Havens International.

"These things keep happening, and they're happening too often," said Wisconsin state Rep. Ed Brooks, a Republican. "This isn't child's play anymore. This is serious stuff. Every threat is real until it's disproved. There's a high level of anxiety."

Brooks has proposed legislation that would make a public death threat a medium-grade felony in Wisconsin, with more severe consequences if anybody is hurt during an evacuation. …

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