School staff, police are keeping students safe | In Our Opinion

Those impacted by recent lockdowns at South Kitsap High have voiced opinions (ironically over social media) ranging from annoyance at having their school day interrupted to those who are genuinely fearful.

Indeed, some community members have gone on Facebook and other sites to register complaints, wondering why South Kitsap School District administrators haven’t stepped up efforts to eliminate the growing number of online threats, three of which have caused lockdowns or student body dismissal over the past month. Others write that they’re just annoyed by ”needless” lockdowns.

It’s true that learning opportunities are diminished when students are put through yet another lockdown procedure. Fearful, jittery students aren’t going to fully participate in the educational process unless they feel comfortable and secure so they can focus on their studies.

The rise and sophistication of social media and cell phones have increased chances that these threats will continue to be an ongoing concern. Parents can play an important role in monitoring their young adult’s smartphone use and identifying suspicious online discussion threads. But first, a heart-to-heart chat about responsible phone app use and the consequences they might face should be too careless in their use might be in order.

While the unease is understandable, it’s unfair to point fingers at school district administrators. The threats have placed them in a difficult spot. Their paramount mission is to provide students with the best learning opportunities possible. But it’s also true that their safety, and that of district employees, must always be protected.

Their vigilance and rapid responses to these threats, especially so on Dec. 5 at the high school, should be comforting to the South Kitsap community. The district has formed a tight partnership with Port Orchard Police, which has proved critical in improved response time, conducting thorough building searches and instituting instructive follow-up investigations. To date, the perpetrators of these threats have been identified and charged with a crime. That’s commendable.

It takes just a single deranged individual to lead a community into grief and tragedy. That’s out of the dozens or more who find it somehow entertaining to issue phony threats that disrupt lives. But they all must be treated as if they will lead to a horrific conclusion. Vigilance — by school staff, students and their parents — is the only way to combat this crime and those individuals who are the offenders.