There no longer is any margin for error in judging whether youngsters plan to carry out a deadly strike.
More and more, it seems there is no longer a chance for public officials to consider anything a joke or a prank.
There might have been a time when a community could hear talk about high school pupils planning some kind of coup and brush it off as unrealistic, even impossible.
No more, probably never again.
Kansas schools have had to re-arrange schedules after hearing rumors that one or more pupils was pondering a killing spree. Then consider the stunning report at Burlington High in Wisconsin where five boys were reportedly planning a bloodbath at the school to get vengeance for being "disrespected."
Authorities were quick to investigate and found firm evidence that the boys, ages 15 and 16, had an elaborate plot. It included access to guns, cutting telephone lines and taking school administrators hostage.
None of the police in the town of some 9,500 or any of the citizens was laughing after the accused boys said it was only some kind of joke.
It turned out the boys were able to get hold of 9mm, .357-caliber and .44-caliber weapons that had been kept by a father of one of the boys. And there were other weapons due to be at their disposal for the strike.
In the past two years, three girls were killed when a fellow pupil opened fire on their high school prayer circle in West Paducah, Ky.; two pupils were killed in Pearl, Miss.; and four pupils and a teacher died in an ambush in Jonesboro, Ark.
There is no Age of Innocence anymore, now with near-toddlers and teens committing crimes every bit as vicious and frightening as any adult could imagine.
It all makes some of the youthful foolishness of the past year seem ever so inconsequential. Tipped-over outhouses never led to mass killings.