Policy Corner: Our thoughts on pranks, bomb threats and vandalism

  • Jim Baumann, Assistant Vice President/Managing Editor, 2015 head shot

    Jim Baumann, Assistant Vice President/Managing Editor, 2015 head shot

 
 
Updated 10/1/2021 6:05 PM

As a community newspaper, we try to be mindful of the repercussions of our coverage.

By reporting on crime, we do so with a mind toward informing the public while not simultaneously encouraging more of it.

 

We ran a story Friday on the latest idiotic TikTok campaign that suggests kids slap their teachers on the rear end and post video of it.

I can't make this stuff up.

Kids aren't the best critical thinkers, and some will fall prey to this powerful peer pressure.

We wrote about it to let parents know this is happening so they can provide some common-sense guidance before sending them off to school.

Just as Melissa Couch, principal of Crone Middle School in Naperville, did when she sent a note to parents.

"Any student who chooses to carry out any of these challenges at school will be subject to school and police consequences," she wrote.

If common sense doesn't win out, the threat of police intervention should, and that's what we routinely stress in stories involving pranks, bomb threats and vandalism.

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We will cover vandalism only if it's widespread, incurs costly damage or is really awful -- hate crime stuff.

Our default is to ignore vandalism rather than reward the vandals with more ink. But there is a point at which the severity of it warrants coverage.

Bomb threats are a tricky situation. Some people phone in bomb threats to simply get out of a test or take a day off. Some do it for a thrill. Some do it with pure malice.

We generally do not write about them unless it causes other issues.

The more high profile it is, the more likely we will pursue it.

But in the end, our goal is to avoid promulgating more bad behavior.

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