Krueger: Epidemic of bomb scares

Emily Krueger

On the morning of Oct. 16, a suspicious object was reported to the ISU police. The events that followed included roping off the entrance to the campus library and the front of the Hub, the arrival of the Ames fire marshals and a bomb squad car.

Later on, the item suspected to be an explosive was considered harmless.

Nevertheless, I was intrigued. I could feel my “inner journalist” instinct tingling. Honestly, if I didn’t have a couple test reviews and an exam to study for, I would have made my way over to the site to investigate. Instead, I tracked the story on my iPhone throughout the day.

The small talk around campus was unbelievable. The whispering during class periods, the crazy Facebook posts, and the steady stream of updates on the Iowa State Daily website — even the chatter on the buses got me to pondering what I considered an intense circumstance at the given moment.

Most people were not concerned.

I overheard about 50 or so stories about bomb pranks during student’s high school senior year. A few kids shrugged it off as no big deal. One student bragged that his school had had four bomb threats within the last few months of his senior year. None of the bomb threat stories I heard actually involved a dangerous explosive — just a bunch of kids thinking they could get out of class early.

Statistically, very few bomb threats are genuine within school districts. While an advantage for students might be that they get out of class for a day or two, I think that this leisure time is irrelevant. Surprisingly, the government does not keep track of all the bomb threats or scares statistics. This could be due to schools such as one in a Maryland school district which reported 150 bomb threats and 55 arrests in a single year!

Obviously, the problem is more concerning than a single fake bomb scare.

I think students fail to realize the complexity of calling in a prank bomb threat. It might be fun to a few individuals involved in a senior prank, but what about everyone else? Police and fire marshals are taken from other important tasks to guard the perimeter around what could be a potentially dangerous situation. Students miss out on classes and valuable education, while elementary teachers try their best to calm scared and crying little ones.

Clearly the bomb epidemic is spiraling out of control. Even if proven to be false, bomb scares carry a real threat directed at schools and students. It’s not just a prank or something to be laughed at; it could even be considered as small-time terrorism, whether or not it’s a sham.

In the midst of our current flurry of political happenings, the shutdown and reopening of our federal government, this column may fall on deaf ears. I mean, why worry about fake bomb threats when there is so much more going on in our country right now. Maybe it’s why I wrote on the topic. I think change begins with a few people willing to listen and make a stand.

And when it comes to the rampant bomb scares in America, something needs to change.