New study shows increase in school threats

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The start of every school year brings a new set of nerves: new friends, new school, new classes. And new school threats.

“Kids come into the school in the beginning hot off the summer, where they may have had conflicts,” says Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, an organization based in Cleveland that helps schools assess security and plan for crisis.

“In the Spring time, we see an uptick in social interactions with kids that may deteriorate, so I think conflicts spiking in during spring and even at the start of the school year tend to reflect those interpersonal conflicts that spike around those times naturally.”

The most recent study from the Educator’s School Safety Network revealed 1, 2678 bomb threats at schools nationwide during the 2015-16 school year. The group says that is twice as many incidents compared to three years before. Ohio ranked second to Massachusetts, with 96 threats.

The same study also found elementary schools receiving 44% of the threats, compared to high schools at 35% and middle schools at 20%.

Trump says it doesn't surprise him to see school threats trending to the younger grades.

“In our study of more than 800 violent school threats, 37% were sent electronically, 28% of those threats by social media,” Trump explains.

“So when you look at the availability of social media and other electronic communications, they’re in the hands of younger and younger kids. It doesn't surprise us it’s getting young with those making the threats,” he adds.

Trump says there are three specific steps schools can take before the start of the year to help calm a potential school violence situation of any kind.

  1. Have a threat assessment team established and protocols at the ready.
  2. Have a plan for heightened security when threats occur.
  3. Have a crisis communication and social media plan in place to reduce anxiety.

Click here to see Kenneth Trump’s full interview with CrimeTracker 10’s Angela An.

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