National hoax threat issue hits school district
December 23, 2021
Hoax threats of school shootings and public acts of violence that appear to originate with juveniles are becoming an increasing problem across the nation. FBI Denver issued a warning last week that these threats have serious consequences, while Crook County School District (CCSD) found itself dealing with just such a situation.
CCSD was last week obliged to issue a letter regarding a troubling post on social media platform TikTok describing a threat to school safety for “every school in the USA” on Friday.
“The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend and did not originate in our school district,” said the letter from Superintendent Mark Broderson.
Though the district had consulted with the Sheriff’s Office and was monitoring the situation, Broderson said he did not believe the threat was credible.
However, he stated in the letter, “This situation serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, they can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families and staff. We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity.”
Broderson asked families to notify school staff or trusted adults right away if they become aware of any potential threat.
According to FBI Denver, “Juveniles are increasingly posting images on social media of themselves and others posing with weapons and, in some instances, making threats intended as a joke or simply a hoax.”
These posts, the division warns, create public safety issues that must be addressed by law enforcement and school officials.
“The FBI and our partners analyze and investigate all threats to determine their credibility. Federal, state and local law enforcement then employ a full range of tools to mitigate those threats which are deemed credible,” states the division in a press release.
“Making threats intended as a hoax drains law enforcement resources and costs taxpayers a lot of money. When an investigation determines a true threat or a ‘hoax threat’ is made to a school, or another public place, federal or state criminal charges can result depending on the facts of each situation.”
FBI Denver has issued tips for parents and teachers about online threats, beginning with the importance of securing your weapons to ensure juveniles are not able to access them.
“Don’t ever post or send any hoax threats online…period,” states the list of tips.
If you see a threat online, the FBI recommends notifying the authorities but not sharing or forwarding the threat until law enforcement has had a chance to investigate, as this can spread misinformation and cause unnecessary panic.
“If you are a parent or family member, know that some young people post these threats online as a cry for attention or as a way to get revenge or exert control,” states FBI Denver in the press release.
“Talk to your child about the proper outlet for their stress or other emotions, and explain the importance of responsible social media use and the consequences of posting hoax threats.”
Contact law enforcement to report online threats or suspicious activity – if you have reason to believe there is an immediate risk to the safety of others, call 911.
You can also contact the FBI at tips.fbi.gov or by calling (303) 629-7171 to report a tip.