OPINION: On the Basis of Bomb Threats

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

by NATALIE PENRY - Feb. 7, 2019

This is a letter concerning a bomb threat.

This is not a letter about the threat itself, or how the administration handled it.

This is not a letter about mental health in teenagers.

This is not a letter about bullying, racism or school security.

This is a letter about you, the digital reader, and your reactions to the bomb threat.


Let’s back up. For those of you that don’t know, on the morning of Dec. 5, word began to spread around school that there was a bomb threat in the boys’ bathroom. I myself found this out through a group chat where a picture was sent. While I dismissed the threat, doubting its severity, a lot of my peers acted otherwise. They stayed home from school, anxiously talked to family and regarded everyone with a level of suspicion- and they were totally within their right to do so. Westfield High School is not the kind of place that gets bomb threats. That’s simply not the Westfield Way.


What was more disappointing than the hushed accusations and finger pointing was the online reaction some people had when the school sent out an official email regarding the threat. Immediately, a social media squadron of soldiers martyred themselves in the form of finstas and snapchat stories. Things like, and I’m paraphrasing here:

“Story time! I almost died at school today!!!”
“I just saw the news! R.I.P, Westfield.

Clickbait. At its finest.


I work a lot on trying not to judge people for their actions. This is high school--we all do things we regret--but the one thing I cannot wrap my head around is how. How you thought it was a good idea. Please, enlighten me. How did that help?


Can you even imagine what that feels like? To get that call, that email, that message--the one that says your kid. Your kid. Your kid just threatened to blow up a school. Could you possibly know what that feels like?


I’m going to go out on a limb and say you don’t. You did not stop to consider the family. You just got on your phone and aggravated the situation more. You used a savant army of teenagers to rub the whole thing in those parents’ faces. As if they didn’t feel guilty enough.


I hope it was worth it.


Was it? Was the twenty-four hours of finsta fame worth it? Did you bask in the glow of your newfound popularity? I sure hope so, because what you did was absolutely detrimental to everyone actually involved in the first place.


A disclaimer: this whole piece may be a little biased. I’m speaking from the heart, not from logic; however, I stand by what I said. The message rings true. Think before you act. Stop trying to piggyback on other people’s misfortunes. Consider the whole picture, not just the corner with your face on it. We live in an era where school shootings are sadly considered normal, but it doesn’t make them any less devastating. So, for Pete’s sake, please show some respect. Show some decorum. Be a decent human being.


Because that’s the Westfield Way.

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