Copycat school threats boil over following major shootings; how do we stop them?

Copycat school threats boil over following major shootings; how do we stop them?
Updated: Feb. 20, 2018 at 11:04 PM EST
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JACKSON TOWNSHIP, OH (WOIO) - Less than a week after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., students at Jackson Memorial Middle School feared for their lives after a student shot himself on campus Tuesday morning.

"We have to wonder: did the student plan on a similar attack like we've seen now across the country, or was it just simply a suicide at the school?" said Adam Coughran, president of Safe Kids Inc.

Coughran's question is one still waiting to be answered.

His national organization teaches kids violence prevention and survival.

Coughran watches copycat threats mount after every major event. The more tragic the incident, the more follow-up threats he tends to see.

"I think in today's age we have to take literally every threat as credible and take the steps necessary to protect our children," Coughran said.

Since the deadly shooting in Parkland, Fla., police in Northeast Ohio have reported at least 11 school threats.

Threats have been made in Akron, Alliance, Massillon, Mansfield, Green, Grafton, Galion, Geneva, Plain, Shelby and Willoughby.

"We see these copycats trying to ride the wave of the unfortunately successful violent act that we saw in Florida," said Coughran.

He said the person behind the threat is often looking for attention, wanting to cause a scare and get their name out.

Coughran said parents need to have honest conversations with their kids.

"Are our kids feeling overloaded? Are they feeling too pressured? Is their something in their life that is giving them a problem? Is it social media-driven? Is it friends-driven?" he said.

Coughran said law enforcement should also be involved and listen closely to what students have to say.

"What's the pulse of our campus? What are the students saying I think that in it or itself will find a lot of information if it's credible and what do we need to do about it?" he said.

Police in Northeast Ohio have made arrests in a few copycat threat cases, but others are still being investigated.

Students who make copycat threats can lead to serious felony charges, including fines and jail time.

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