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Fake Threats and Real Consequences: The Aftermath of the Parkland Tragedy

School crossing guard Wendy Behrend lights a candle at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the one-year anniversary of the school shooting, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, in Parkland, Fla. A year ago on Thursday, 14 students and three staff members were killed when a gunman opened fire at the high school. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

By Karina Cashman
Staff Writer
It is inconceivable to me that amidst today’s back and forth debating regarding gun control in relation to the amount of school shootings that there would be any person issuing fake school shooting threats, and yet it seems that this is exactly what’s happening.
Since the Parkland shooting just over a year ago, it seems that the amount of cases of school shooting threats as jokes or pranks has increased at an alarming rate. According to a WJLA ABC 7 news report, on May 15, a group of seniors came to school with water guns and set off fireworks in the hallways in an attempt to simulate a school shooting as their senior prank. The school was evacuated, and a student was injured by the fireworks and suffered an asthma attack.
While school officials released a statement saying, “School administration is taking this incident very seriously and coordinating with local police; the students involved will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and disciplined according to the PGCPS Student Code of Conduct,” I have been unable to find the names of the students responsible in order to check any potential arrest records, so I’m unable to verify to what extent, if any, these students were punished.
A New York Times report said that following the Parkland shooting, tips and false alarms of school shooting threats flooded police departments and school districts alike.
“Experts said that the sharp increase in threats and false alarms in the days since the Florida shooting reflects the unusually intense public conversation and media coverage that have unfolded since that attack. In the tense days that have followed, the experts said, teenagers are borrowing the language of school shootings to provoke or cause turmoil. And anxious school employees are on high alert, watchful for any sign of a potential shooter and quick to summon the police over behavior that, in a different moment, might have been overlooked,” the report said.
“Since Parkland, there have been at least 31 incidents at K-12 schools in the United States in which someone was shot. That averages out to a shooting every 11.8 days,” said CNN.
The correlation between the ever-rising number of school shootings in 2018 and the number of falsified threats of shootings should not be something taken lightly, and legitimate attempts seem to grow as time goes on.
This brings us to the question of what can be done about this. Besides punishing those who commit these types of crimes so as to set a precedent of what isn’t acceptable behavior and making policy decisions in order to ensure that guns don’t fall into the hands of teens with an illegal agenda, the solution is grim-looking indeed. Sometimes, adolescent recklessness spirals into something more serious, and while committing violent crimes is an extreme case, it does lead one to wonder just what is going on in the minds of the outliers of the younger generation.

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