Schools across the country are facing a wave of violent threats in the days following the devastating rampage at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas that left 21 people, including 19 students, dead.
Experts say that while school threats are a daily occurrence, schools are now on edge as administrators assess threats made on social media and in classrooms, resulting in heightened security and lockdowns.
In New York, Suffolk County police said they arrested a 16-year-old for posting on social media Thursday that he planned to conduct a “massive shooting” at Bellport High School, which he attends. In Maryland, a high school in Prince George’s County went into lockdown on Thursday after a student brought parts of a “ghost gun” into a classroom; the student was later arrested. And at least six threats have been made this week against schools in Texas, according to media reports.
While there’s no national database tracking school shooting threats, experts say it’s not surprising that there would be more of them reported in the wake of the Texas massacre.
“In the aftermath of a school shooting tragedy, school shootings are front of mind for everyone and we may be more inclined to report suspected threats of violence, thus increasing the number of threats,” James Densley, professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University and a co-founder of the Violence Project, wrote in an email. “At the same time, high school students try to seize on the moment by calling in hoax threats to get school canceled.” In other cases, the threats may be made by people wanting to copy the most recent tragedy.