Don't Make a Threat You'll Regret

Dr. Cindy Elsberry talks about the problems created by the bomb threats at Horry County Schools.

Friday morning, Horry County police, the 15th Circuit Solicitor's Office and the Horry County School District presented their campaign to stop the recurring bomb threats at Horry County schools.

At a news conference at Carolina Forest High School, county leaders showed a public service announcement that warns students: "Don't Make a Threat You'll Regret."

Horry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Cindy Elsberry said 19 bomb threats have happened so far during the 2011-2012 school year.

"We've asked each of our schools to hold class meetings to discuss the consequences of threats made to school. We hope constant reminders will have an impact on the decision making of our students," said Elsberry. "We know that our communities and our children are the best resource to protect against these kind of threats."

"It's getting out of hand," said Horry County Interim Police Chief Saundra Rhodes.

While camera crews were shooting the bomb threat PSA at Carolina Forest High, an actual bomb threat was made at the school. Then, during Friday's news conference, a student made a bomb threat at Black Water Middle School.

Anywhere from six to 12 additional police officers are sent to schools during a bomb threat.

Rhodes said it costs the county between $5,000 and $6,000 each time a bomb threat is made at a school.

"We have not sought restitution for those costs as of yet," said Rhodes, "but we are in the discussion of seeking those damages in the future."

The PSA will be shown on local cable access channels and during in-school broadcasts.

Rhodes said the PSA was not produced to scare students but to let them know the county is serious about the issue.

Deputy Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said a juvenile who makes a bomb threat has the potential to stay in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice until his or her 21st birthday.

"It does not matter what kind of student the child is," said Richardson. "If they are responsible for a bomb threat we will seek prosecution."

Richardson also made a plea to parents to do their part in stopping the threats.

"Parents need to protect their children's potential now, instead of trying to reconstruct it at a later date," said Richardson. "Is two hours out of class or out of a test worth your life changing forever?"

Elsberry said some of the county schools have started checking bathrooms frequently for threats, and some school teachers must keep a log of which students go to use the bathroom during class.

"We're trying to get the message out that this is not fun and games. This is serious business that could impact students for the reminder of their lives," said Elsberry.

Last week, Carolina Forest High Principal Gaye Driggers dealt with two bomb threats.

Tuesday, two of the juveniles pled guilty to one of those bomb threats and were sent for further evaluation to the Department of Juvenile Justice Reception Evaluation Center.

Driggers said her students have asked about those students.

"We've been very open with our student body so that they understand the consequences of making bad decisions and threats," said Driggers.

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