School is one place where young people should always feel safe. Yet recent bomb threats made by teens in clown suits have everyone on edge. All around Phoenix, many children are scared to be at school after the threats, about possible bombs, that were made on social media. The people sending the threats dressed as clowns and sent videos where they tried to scare people into thinking they would bomb their schools. Three teens, a 15-year-old girl and two 14-year-old boys, were arrested and are being charged for sending the threats to high schools through social media. First it started in high schools, Phoenix Union High School District, and continued to elementary schools, including Phoenix Elementary School District #1. It affects students in these districts, but schools all around the country have also been threatened.
A Phoenix Union High School District teacher from Central High School, Jeff Sing, was not sure what to think about the clowns. He said that a safety precaution the district took was to “email teachers imploring us to report anything we hear that might be a clue or suspicious.” He included that they were told that extra police and security would be sent to schools. Phoenix Union High School District has tried to make parents feel secured about sending their children to school by sending them letters to share the extra precautions they have taken.
Although this terrifying clown issue started with the high schools, it then moved towards elementary schools as well. Yvette Mancilla, mother of two Phoenix Elementary School District students, explains her worries as she looks at a picture of her children and hopes they will be safe at school. She has noticed that at her son’s school, Dunbar Elementary School, they have definitely made changes to make people feel safer. For example, they have incorporated a few changes like they are extra careful who students are going with when they get picked up and even have a window at the front office, to protect others. She feels, “comfortable after seeing the school is making an effort to secure the students. I am also glad that my kids do not have phones or are on social media so they cannot be targeted those ways.” Mancilla has observed that many parents do not monitor their children, but also kids are too young to have phones. She believes teachers need to tell students that they can come to them and they need to make it a safe environment for the students.
Debbie McCune Davis, State Representative of Legislative District 30, discussed how, “As a parent and grandparent myself, I understand that kids can do things that are dangerous, but they think it is funny. Those kids that make threats so big like that need to understand they cannot be doing that and need to know how serious it is.” Davis thinks similarly to Phoenix Police, that these threats are not a joke, but a felony.
Shannon Sheenae, Arizona Education Association (AEA) Communications Director, explained how AEA is affiliated with the National Education Association, to provide schools with crisis guides. The guide helps schools make a plan for before, during and after the crisis occurs. This way schools are prepared for any emergencies and know how to protect their students and teachers.