Study: Sharp Increase in School Bomb Threats

The number of bomb threats made against schools has increased dramatically since November of 2011.

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – A new study found that the number of bomb threats at U.S. schools doubled between the 2012-2013 and 2015-2016 school years.

The study’s authors recorded a total of 1,276 bomb threats in the 2015-2016 school year, part of a sharp increase that’s continued for several years.

To gather bomb threat data, researchers from the Educator’s School Safety Network combed media reports between November 2011 and November 2014. Information collected about the threat included the date, location, type of incident, type of school, how the threat or incident was delivered/discovered and the response of school and local officials.

The results were disheartening for those familiar with the disruption bomb threats cause: There has been a 1,461 percent increase in bomb threat incidents since Nov. 2011.

The most common response by officials was to evacuate the school, followed by lockdowns and class cancellations. View the chart of bomb incident responses for exact percentages.

CHECK OUT this slideshow of data charts from the study.

The study also revealed that the number of bomb threats in the month of September tripled from 2012 to 2014. Overall, the months of April, October and September had the most bomb threats.

Massachusetts was found to have by far the highest number of bomb threats in the 2015-2016 school year at 135. Wyoming and Nevada tied for the lowest number of threats in the same timeframe, with just one each.

Out of all the threats in that school year, there were four explosive devices found and one detonation.

The researchers offered several recommendations for school administrators after receiving a bomb threat:

  • Have a functional understanding of explosive devices, sheltering distances, and the disruptive/destructive capabilities of explosive devices
  • Have an understanding of the protocols and practices that will be employed by emergency responders
  • Be able to appropriately assess the level and validity of threats
  • Be able to identify and analyze pre-attack indicators
  • Have protocols in place to prevent future bomb threats and diminish copycat incidents
  • Have the capability to conduct appropriate and effective searches of school facilities

The researchers also encouraged state and local emergency officials to provide training for bomb incidents that provides specific strategies, skills, and information for school decision makers.”

The researchers also cautioned that numerous incidents were likely to have been missed in the data collection effort.

You can view charts and additional findings from the study in this image gallery.

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