Our research has identified a disturbing emerging trend of hoax shooting and bomb threats targeting preK-12 schools. These threats are drawing heavy law enforcement responses to schools and creating anxiety among students, educators, and parents.
Recent examples include:
- A 12-year-old middle school student called in a false report of a shooting at a Florida high school drawing heavy police response and creating substantial anxiety among parents.
- An 18-year-old suburban Chicago man is accused by police of calling in a fake school shooting threat in an effort of revenge against another individual allegedly involved in a drug deal gone bad.
- A 32-year-old man was arrested by suburban Cleveland police for making a bomb threat to an elementary school in an alleged effort to get back at a person who owes him money.
We have also found hoax threats made to schools as distractions for bank robberies.
These and other examples illustrate the importance of having school threat assessment protocols developed in cooperation with local law enforcement and other first responders. All threats must be treated seriously. At the same time, having a clear process for threat assessment and well-trained threat assessment teams can help school and safety officials react cognitively, not emotionally, when threats are made against their schools and students.
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