An increasing number of student arrests after violent threats, weapons on school campuses

Many of you, especially parents, are aware of the threats of violence in schools and weapons brought to campus recently. Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen an increasing number of student arrests.

From two teens accused of plotting a Columbine-style shooting at Harns Marsh Middle School last month to a gun found in a backpack at East Lee County High School. There were three new threats made in Collier County Public Schools on Friday.

Those threats were made at Immokalee, Lely and Palmetto Ridge High Schools, respectively. And, it happened in Hendry and DeSoto Counties as well.

David Thomas is a professor of Forensic Studies at FGCU and studies school threats and violence. WINK News asked what could be causing so many of these threats to happen and be exposed.

School threats are becoming far too common across Southwest Florida. Terry is a mother of a Collier County student. “You’re terrified when you hear something like this because you don’t know if it’s real or not,” she said.

Avier Jonhson is a DeSoto County parent. “Hearing that right there kind of got me kind of concerned,” said Johnson.

Mari Cruz is also a DeSoto County parent. “It’s really concerning because you want your kids to go to school and be safe there,” Cruz said.

On Friday alone, investigators had to look into school threats made in DeSoto, Hendry and Collier Counties. And, there were multiple other students arrested in Lee County this week.

“Pick a day in this country, you will see that there is either some threat or there is some shooting. To the point where it has almost become commonplace, which is pretty scary,” said Thomas.

Thomas says that in the past, some counties have increased punishments as a deterrent for threatening violence in this way. “I think when there are pranksters and they don’t have mental health issues, sure, that takes care of one group of students… one group of kids,” Thomas said. “But on the other side of this coin, is you have a series of kids who have mental health issues.”

Thomas believes the idea of making a school threat may already be in the minds of some students. So, seeing one happen could lead to other threats. “It could be that they’ve thought about it and now this validates it. That incident validates it,” he said.

He also says that kids need positive role models and healthy coping mechanisms in their lives. However, many students don’t have those things. “Our babysitter for our kids has become technology… computers, tablets, cell phones. And we allow our kids to bury their heads in there for hours without ever intervening in what they’re watching,” said Thomas.

Thomas did point to two other factors as well. He said many kids were learning from home during the pandemic, so there could have been increasing social pressure. He also thinks bullying could be playing a role.

MORE: If your child is a victim of bullying, the Charlotte, Collier and Lee County School Districts have resources available to them.
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Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Drew Hill
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