Bomb threat at the High School


Today, Dr. Nesbitt, the principal of Haverford High School sent out a robocall to all of the parents of high school students. The text of the message, about a threat the school received via social media site Twitter, is posted on the Haverford School District website. Here it is in full:

Late last night (March 23) a student posted a threatening comment towards the high school on Twitter. The administration worked cooperatively with the Haverford Township Police who visited the student’s home and determined that the threat was not credible. Dr. Nesbitt spoke with the police and the family late last night. All believe the student made an impromptu very bad decision. To add to everyone’s comfort level, the high school had additional staff and police present in the building when school began today. The principal met with the student and parents at 7:15 in the morning and appropriate disciplinary action was initiated.
We would like to reiterate that this was a spontaneous posting and that it was not a premeditated, credible threat. We would also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that you should always be careful regarding what messages you post in the online world. Thank you.

(Read that over again. It truly is outstanding. It is anti-panic. It is practical. It is a perfect response to a regrettable mistake).

Some chatter on Twitter names a student suspected of the threat but we won’t repeat the name here. The student might be a minor. Also, the whole incident might be a bit blown out of proportion (by the students, not our excellent and calm-headed authorities), as one student tweet suggests:

all the names redacted

all the names redacted


A few weeks ago, the reported Owen Boss of put up a little article wondering if the bomb-threat evacuations that have happened in other parts of the US will happen in Haverford. The article sites the use of anonymous social media application Yik Yak. The offending message containing an alleged bomb threat against Haverford was delivered via Twitter (The 140 character or less message is nicknamed a “tweet” for all of you rock-liver-unders out there).

This incident does drop us humble Havertownies down in the middle of a world-wide debate. What should be deemed a threat when our every passing thought is acceptable fodder for social media sharing? When those flighty fits of rage, dark humor, obsession or stupidity come from the minds of minors, do we disregard them as the folly of youth or do we send students to prison? Do we evacuate a school based on each and every anonymous threat? (No, we do not. Not here in H-Town. Great job, HPD & HSD).

Any iffy Ford with an iPhone can drop a bomb threat now. Which may make us ask, “Really, Haverford School District? You took a bomb threat that was tweeted out by a student who used his/her easily identifiable Twitter ID seriously?” Of course the District must investigate every. single. student. brainfart. But keep an eye on the jobs listings for the HSD. They’ll soon need an army of social media gestapo if they are going to keep that up.

One would think, in an era over saturated with public comment, that terrorists would behoove themselves to present threats on a bit more credible a plane than an anonymous bullying site like Yik Yak or the extreme existential silliness that is Twitter. Terrorists will have to step up their game to be taken at their word. Soon, one lone tweet ain’t gonna do it. Or, at least it shouldn’t.

We’re all still getting used to this new pace of communication and the staggering ubiquity of it. Investigating every single off-center comment, every childish wish, every ill-thought joke is not scalable nor is it necessary.

This tweeted (alleged – we think we may need to say “alleged”) threat was a relatively new(ish) experience for Dr. Nesbitt and the School District, so it is understandable why they got the police involved to talk to the student and the student’s family. But in the not-too-distant future, we will need an entirely different approach. Comments like this will probably escalate. In a sea of data, we need a good desalinator. We need guidelines and practices that help us determine what is fodder and what is fight. Are we really the kind of district that allows for zero non-conformity? Are we those oversensitive types that can’t take a bit of protest from children? Are we those over-protective panickers who cry foul instantly at the sight of digital graffiti?

Nah. We’re Townies. We can take a joke.

We just prefer it to be funny.



UPDATE: March 24, 2014. Here’s the official press release from our men in blue:



1010 Darby Road Havertown, Pennsylvania 19083

Official Press Release

Threat Haverford High School 200 Mill Road

On Sunday, March 23, 2014, at 2237 hours, the Haverford Township Police Department received a report of a threat concerning the Haverford High School. The threat was posted in a message on Twitter by a high school student. The Police Department contacted the principal of the high school and informed him of the report. The student who posted the message was identified and police responded to his residence, where contact was made with him and his parent. The investigation determined that there was no evidence of any threat being carried out by the student.

Prior to the arrival of students on Monday, March 24, 2014, Haverford Township Police and high school staff conducted a sweep of the school building and all was clear. The juvenile student was petitioned on the charges of Terroristic Threats and related offenses.

This is an Official Press Release of the Haverford Township Police Department issued on the authority of Chief Carmen D. Pettine.

Det. Sgt. Shant Bedrossian Public Information Officer