A flurry of school threats circulated throughout the region on Friday some were unfounded and some resulted in charges.
In Gowanda, two teens are facing the felony charge of making a terroristic threat.
They are accused of creating an image of guns on a school bus. Schools were closed as a result. The district’s full statement can be found here https://gowcsd.org/update-on-the-school-closing-of-december-17-2021/
In Chautauqua County, the Southwestern Central School District canceled classes today in response a threat. District officials identified the student responsible and are involving law enforcement.
Meanwhile, middle school and high school students were place on down lockdown at the West Seneca Central School District after two separate threats. The district says a student thought another student had a gun. That was determined to be uncredible.
At the high school, it was a social media post that put the district on high alert. The district superintendent said the police are investigating.
“Fortunately, nothing happened I’m very happy about that,” said Matthew J. Bystrak, West Seneca superintendent of schools. “The police are still investigating. Just trying to get to the source of this social media communication.” The district’s updates can be found here https://www.facebook.com/WestSenecaCSD
All this is happening on the heels of a TicTok threat directed at schools nationwide. The Department of Homeland Security posted a Tweet about the threat stating that it was not credible, and school should be on high alert.
The district superintendent at the Southwestern Central School District says the rash of threats is a sign of pandemic related stress within schools.
“I think the social and emotional well-being of our kids is very fragile right now. It’s fragile on our staff level, and it’s fragile on our kids’ level, across the nation in school districts,” said Maureen E. Donahue superintendent of schools at the Southwestern Central School District.
Since last month, there’s been a rash of online threats directed at schools across the region.Tech experts say there are ways to help stop these threats.
“I think, number one, parents need to be a little more responsible to make sure their kids aren’t accessing inappropriate websites and making sure that they aren’t committing cyber bullying and threatening schools through social media sites,” said Burton Kelso, technology expert at Integral in Kansas City Missouri.
“I think before parents give their kids devices; they need to set ground rules as far as how the device is going to be used. They need to think of it as their device, as opposed to their kid’s devices. That way, they can have access to these devices, so they can check to see what’s going on.”
Kelso says parents need to educate their kids about social media and how to use it.
“I hate to say this, but it all boils down to how parents are monitoring their kids usage. It almost needs to come down to where parents need to be held responsible for their kids actions,” Kelso said. “Technology is complicated, but it’s almost like if you’re a parent, you’re not going to allow your kid to drive a vehicle without at least teaching him how to drive properly or send them to driver’s ed. And, the same thing needs to happen with technology and with social media, parents need to do more due diligence when it comes to allowing their kids to have full access to their phones.”
Here’s a video of tips from Burton Kelso “How To Stop Social Media Threats Made Against Schools” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-SDu-xaY84