Is the Lee County campaign to stop school threats working?
A campaign launched a month ago by Lee County school district and Lee County Sheriff’s Office, called fake threats, real consequences, is an initiative that was implemented to deter hoax threats. Eleven students have been arrested for making threats since then, and the threats don’t seem to be slowing down.
Are the kids getting the message?
While many people get new information through organizations like WINK News, experts say students are largely communicating and consuming information through social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram.
“It’s the main primary way they have,” said FGCU Professor Dr. David Thomas, who has a Ph.D. in forensic psychology. “They’ll use social media. That’s a very common form, but it make it easy for law enforcement to track.”
Families are worn down by reoccurring school shooting threats
Following an announcement of an arrest for a school threat made the previous day, Principal Kristin Bueno alerted parents of another student arrest related to a threat made at Lexington Middle School in Fort Myers Thursday.
“Today, we were informed of a threat on social media made by one of our students,” Bueno said in a recorded audio message. “Administration, along with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, began an investigation. And, tonight, that student is in custody.”
The message further emphasized the school’s intolerance toward violence and its value for student and school safety.
“In addition, we have begun the disciplinary process at the school level. I want to thank you for trusting us with your children. Their safety and security is our highest priority.”
An unsettling phone call to families with children in Fort Myers High School late Wednesday evening, let them know about a threat that may compromise the safety of students.
“I was anxious about it,” said Susan Hatfield, a grandparent. “It was disquieting to know that your granddaughter is going to go into a school where threats like that are made.”
“It’s kind of scary because like you never know if the same thing is going to happen to your school with people making threats and stuff,” said Keinya Barton, a student. “It’s very scary and nerve-wracking.”
After investigating through the night, police arrested Trayvon Campell, 17, Thursday morning. When Campell was arrested, he had a pocket knife with him.
Some parents, like Annie McMurray, decided to keep their children home until after the school informed them that the student who made the threat was arrested.
“It’s horrible, you know?” McMurray said. “You just want your children to be safe at school and you hope that they are safe. I know that they are doing everything they can here to make sure that you know it’s a safe environment for our kids.”
Now, after more than a dozen threats since just the beginning of the year, the families of students are fed up. They want to know when these school shooting threats will stop.
“I don’t know what to make of it,” said Donald Hatfield, a grandparent. “I don’t really think that they are serious.”
“We need to do something,” Susan Hatfield said.
Talking to children about consequences for making threats
If you don’t talk to your children about making school threats, they could end up in handcuffs.
Police are begging parents to warn their kids of the potentially life-changing consequences of making threats.
But what exactly should you say to get through to them?
“A lot of times, it’s these statements that are being made that either they’ve heard other people make or they’ve seen it on a show on TV,” said Dr. David Fuentes, a psychologist at David Lawrence Center. “And a lot of these times, they’re making these statements without really thinking it through.”
Fuentes is reiterating why it’s important for parents to talk to their children about school threats and the consequences.
“I encourage them to have the conversation,” Fuentes said.