The fall of 2018 saw four detonations of explosive devices in schools. All of them were relatively minor incidents, but they all caused a significant amount of chaos and anxiety. These detonations fell into two specific categories.
Half of the incidents involved students with firecrackers. In the first incident, a student set off a firecracker in the auditorium the day after another student threatened to shoot up the school. (https://bangordailynews.com/2018/10/15/news/hancock/the-day-after-a-gun-threat-at-a-maine-school-another-student-set-off-a-firecracker-in-the-building/). The second incident involved firecrackers set off in a bathroom that filled the hallway with smoke and caused the evacuation of the school. (https://katc.com/news/around-acadiana/st-landry-parish/2018/11/27/opelousas-high-evacuated-after-unknown-device-set-off-in-the-restroom/). In both cases, students at the school believed they were in the middle of a crisis event (a shooting or a fire).
Perhaps more troubling is the face that the other two incidents were perpetrated by individuals outside of the school community. In one case, a construction worker detonated an explosion at the football that was under construction with students in class nearby. By his own admission, he indicated he was “making a bomb”. (https://www.ksl.com/article/46391069/man-charged-with-igniting-explosive-at-new-high-school). The other incident involved a volunteer firefighter who detonated an explosive device behind an elementary school outside of school hours. (https://wjla.com/news/local/volunteer-firefighter-arrested-in-explosive-device-investigation).
It doesn’t take much to imagine the anxiety and fear of those involved in all of these incidents, even though in hindsight we can see they were not catastrophic events… but they could have been. It’s critical that schools engage in appropriate planning, prevention, and response related to bomb threat and incidents.