A wave of “Creepy Clown” threats targeting schools across the nation has intensified in recent weeks, creating fear and anxiety in school communities. The threats have included shooting students and teachers.
Creepy Clown threats sweep schools nationwide
The clown threat makers have been unmasked rather quickly in a number of cases. In Ohio, three sixth graders were apprehended for making clown threats in a suburban Cleveland school community on Monday. On the same day, a 13-year-old girl was nabbed for making clown threats to Philadelphia schools.
These Ohio and Pennsylvania schools joined a long list of schools nationwide slammed with creepy clown threats. Schools in Palm Beach County (Florida), Houston (Texas), Mesa (Arizona), Denver (Colorado), and New Jersey were in the headlines on Monday.
Many cases have resulted in the arrests of local youth as the suspected sources of the threats. However, news reports around the country have cited both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security as involved in investigations of these clown threats, suggesting a broader look for any connections among the nationwide threat wave.
While the threats targeting schools widely have been determined to lack credibility, limited and scattered incidents around the nation have included reported sightings of individuals dressed in clown suits attempting to lure children into woods, yelling at kids in a playground, and other odd occurrences.
Three best practices from national threat study apply to managing school clown threats
Three priority recommendations from our 2015 national study of more than 800 violent school shooting and bomb threats apply to the wave of clown threats currently hammering schools across the country:
- Schools need to have threat assessment teams, training and protocols with first responders
- School leaders should have plans on how to heighten security while ongoing investigationsare being conducted on threats made to the school
- Schools must have crisis communications and social media plans to communicate more effectively with students, staff, parents and the community to counter misinformation and reduce anxiety
For young people making the threats, the most important lesson is that school and public safety officials are not clowning around. Suspensions, expulsions and felony prosecutions are common consequences for threat makers once they are identified.
National School Safety and Security Services
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