INDIANAPOLIS — In the days following four students being killed in a school shooting in Michigan, six separate central Indiana school systems have investigated possible school-related threats.
Carmel School Resource Officer Sgt. DJ Schoeff supervises all Carmel School SROs. He said there tends to be an increase in school threat investigations nationwide after a school shooting.
“Our heightened awareness on the heels of an event like this is significant,” said Schoeff.
Late last week, Schoeff said they received about 150 tips through their “StopIt Alerts”, and anonymous reporting system anyone associated with Carmel Schools can use to report a potential threat.
Schoeff said 150 tips all about one threat is a pretty big number for them and they immediately began investigating.
”We were able to determine pretty quickly this was not a serious concern for us,” Schoeff said.
Investigations like this one have been happening across central Indiana the last few days. Authorities have looked into potential threats made at Franklin Community Schools, MSD of Pike Township Schools, Fayette County School Corporation, Bartholomew County School Corporation, Mt. Vernon Community School Corporations, as well as Carmel. In each case, authorities found the source of the apparent threat and determined the schools to be safe.
According to the City of Franklin Police Department, officers got word of a threat at one of the Franklin schools. Detectives then investigated and found the threat to not be credible. Additional officers will be posted at schools for the next few days, though.
Connersville Middle School administrators were made aware of a possible threat over the weekend. According to the Fayette County School Corporation Facebook page, law enforcement is involved in this ongoing investigation and determined students were safe to return to Connersville Middle School on Monday.
A statement sent to us from a MSD of Pike Township spokesperson said Pike Police were alerted to a threat on social media and began an immediate investigation with IMPD. The person responsible for the threat was identified and authorities determined there was no concern for students or staff at New Augusta North Middle School.
Pike Police were alerted to a threat posted on social media. They worked with their partners at IMPD and began an immediate investigation. The individual responsible for the threat was identified and authorities determined that there are no safety or security related concerns for students or staff at New Augusta North.
Schoeff said we see this increase in schools threat investigations for a myriad of reasons, one being people pay more attention to their own school after a school shooting has just happened somewhere else.
“Often times people will report things that maybe they would have shrugged off on another date,” he said.
In some instances, the threat turns out to not even be real. Instead just social media rumors with no facts to back anything up.
Schoeff says this is similar to what happened with the apparent threat at Carmel High School.
”We just want to encourage our students and our parents, communicate with us, communicate with the school directly rather than posting it or spreading it,” Schoeff said.
Social media played a role in another recent local school threat investigation. SROs at Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation got a Snapchat screenshot threatening school called “east”, presumably Columbus East High School. After further investigation it was determined the Snapchat was talking about a different school in a neighboring state. According to a post on the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation Facebook page, that school system was notified.
But there are many instances where a student does make a threat against a school or classmates.
Child Therapist and owner of Child Therapist Indy, Jessica Hood, said most of the time, students making real threats against a school are doing it from a place of desperation.
”I think they are feeling hopeless or helpless and like they don’t have any other choice,” said Hood.
Hood said to talk to a child you might suspect of wanting to self harm or harm others. She said people are often afraid to ask this question.
”If you’re worried that somebody might be thinking about hurting themself or somebody else the best way to know is just ask them,” Hood said.
She said having these conversations with teens you think could be struggling are very important.
Schoeff said the best thing parents, teachers, students and others can do when they see something that might be a threat is report it, so the right people can investigate and figure out what’s actually happening.