Gardai had to search the schoolbags of every student at a Dublin secondary school this week after a hoax email sparked fears of a bomb.
Children as young as 12 at St John's College, Ballyfermot, were lined up against a wall and had their bags checked by up to seven officers -- without warning -- on Tuesday morning.
And gardai say they are now investigating the origin of an email that implied that a suspicious device had been planted in the school.
Students' bags were checked but no explanation was given by school management or gardai for the search, it is understood.
A garda spokesperson said: "Gardai are aware of an email implying a suspect device at a west Dublin school.
"School management has been informed and the premises has been inspected."
While gardai attempted to keep the reason for the dramatic search under wraps "for operational reasons", a spokesperson finally admitted there was a device scare at the school.
It is understood they were reluctant to release information about the search, in case of copycat incidents and an escalation of fear within the community.
"If every second student does something like this, the whole place could shut down," a garda source said.
The gardai, who were accompanied by a sniffer dog, also blocked off access to one of the school gates, and maintained a presence around the school during the day, it is believed.
But parents are fuming . They say many of the teenagers were terrified and were given no explanation as to why the search was being carried out.
One parent said: "When my son came home from school he was clearly shaken and when I asked him what was wrong, I just couldn't believe his answer.
"I am outraged that they subjected children to such an intimidating situation.
"At no time did the gardai explain why they were searching the boys. How can the school let this happen without informing parents, it's just not good enough."
No one at the school was available for comment to the Herald.
Another parent said: "My son came home and said that when they attempted to enter the school building, their bags were checked -- every kid from 12 years of age to 18."
Local councillor Louise Minihan has criticised the authorities' handling of the situation, saying there was "a wall of silence" between parents and the gardai and the school.
"I was contacted by a parent and they can't get an answer. Parents need to know what happened and what went on."