After a social media post threatened school violence on December 17, schools around the country responded
On what is the last day of school before winter break for millions of kids, a nationwide threat of school violence on social media has parents and kids worried and school systems upping their security measures to prevent possible school shootings.
The threat comes just weeks after a Michigan teen opened fire on his classmates, killing four people and wounding another seven, and days after the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which left 26 people dead, including 20 children.
While authorities don’t believe the social media school shooting threats are credible, many school systems opted for a serious response that included emails and calls to parents, website alerts, emergency meetings, and heightened police presence on campuses.
Some schools, including the school where the most recent deadly shooting took place, closed their doors out of an abundance of caution.
It’s unclear what the origin of the threats was, though some reports said that the posts began as a way for kids to get schools closed during exams and before winter break — but that the idea had “morphed into something much more disturbing.”
The posts don’t mention specific schools or names.
TikTok released a statement on Twitter that echoed the response of many schools — that while there is no evidence of real violence, they were taking the threats seriously:
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” they write.
The threats were serious enough to get the FBI involved.
“The FBI takes all potential threats seriously and we regularly work with our law enforcement partners to determine the credibility of any threats,” the FBI’s Massachusetts office told MassLive. “As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately.”
Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization that fights school violence and gun violence, tweeted on Thursday afternoon that, “gun violence is not a subject for jokes or pranks.”
Some parents kept their kids home from school even though school doors remained open — either out of an abundance of caution or because their kids were scared to attend.
“She’s emotionally sensitive to this stuff,” Marci Peru tells TODAY Parents about deciding to keep her 16-year-old home. “It wasn’t the fear that it would happen, but why put her through the chaos and confusion?”
Peru said that her daughter has been mentally and physically under distress from the threat of school shootings this semester.
“She has a constant headache, and she has stomach pains and cramps and is cranky and just on edge and she’s not sleeping as much and she’s out of a routine,” she says. “Her mental health is absolutely suffering.”
There have been nine active shooter incidents in schools and 235 non-active shooter incidents in 2021, according to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.
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