GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — School threats have impacted nearly every county in West Michigan in the wake of the shooting at Oxford High School.
As of the last check, 24 juveniles are charged in Muskegon County for making threats to their schools.
Kent County is no different.
“We look at the numbers, and we basically had 38 all last year. We’ve had 25 referrals in just the last month,” county prosecutor Chris Becker said.
Including threats from younger and younger students.
“We’ve had elementary schools. I think maybe that’s one of the biggest changes we’ve seen some reports from elementary schools. Elementary schools are doing that,"
Becker says he's assuming similar threats have been made at elementary schools in the past that the school handled internally, but this is the first time they are crossing his desk.
“You wouldn’t think eight or nine-year-olds would be making threats like this. Because quite frankly, they’re worried about other things,” Becker said.
Threats carry potential charges. Elementary school students aren't prosecuted for obvious reasons.
But jail time isn't the goal here: rehabilitation is, according to Becker.
“The vast majority of these cases are juveniles, but jail time or prison time is not possible," Becker said "So we get them in the system. But the whole point of the juvenile system is rehabilitation."
Officials hope the winter break will encourage parents to talk with their children about the seriousness of making school threats.
They're hopeful when school comes back in session come January, they will have a much better month than December.
“When you go to the airport, for flights, you don’t say oh I got a bomb in my luggage because you know what can happen right? So it’s got to be like that now, to get that message out," Becker said. "You can’t make these jokes or comments regarding schools. We’re treating it just like that."