Young People: Steps needed to minimize school threats

School threats have become a common part of social vocabulary. In recent days, an 11-year-old child was arrested locally for bringing a knife to school. So, what’s at the heart of the issue?

Research indicates video games, the lack of mental health evaluations and young people not having the ability or interest in communicating with their peers has led to an increase of school threats.

“Often times it’s because they’re, from a psychological standpoint, something major is happening in their life,” said Dr. David Thomas, a criminal justice professor at FGCU. “There’s some sort of stress that they can’t resolve.”

According to researchers, many of the young people making these threats don’t even see their behavior as criminal.

People have become desensitized by the numerous school shootings like nationwide, along with the constant bombardment in the news about the shootings. It’s numbed people’s rage at the issue but not their awareness.

“I will honestly tell you that the climate today is if a threat is made then somebody’s gonna go tell,” Thomas said.

Thomas, who has a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology, has an extensive background as a police officer and has been studying the mass shootings in schools for about a dozen years.

“In the old days, we would argue with our friends, we’d fight with our friends and then we’d hug,” Thomas said. “We’d make up, and we’d go on and we’d move on. Very seldom did we resolve things with weapons. We very rarely attacked each other than that initial fight.”

Now, people resort to violence, and Thomas said the increase in threats is dramatic. While most are not credible, each one must be investigated. The research has helped Thomas develop a few theories about the increase and what can be done to stem this ongoing problem.

“Get into their social media accounts,” Thomas said. “To get into their emails and text messages and find out and look at any chat rooms that they might be in to see what the information is. You have to be a super sleuth.”

Unless changes are made in mental health awareness and treatment, the likelihood is the number of threats will increase in the future. Communication is key, and time will tell.

Reporter:Rich Kolko
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