Schools threats are a serious matter, not a joke

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - School threats are unpredictable, they can happen any time of the year.

Huntsville City Schools are no exception, with the latest coming from a Grissom High School student now in custody. Police take this situation as no laughing matter.

A 16-year-old Grissom student is in police custody accused of making a terroristic threat. "We don't view them as something that's a joke," said Huntsville City Schools communications director Keith Ward.

The facts

Schools across the country face thousands of disruptions. The National Center for Education Statistics looked at the 2015-2016 school year. More than 10,000 incidences came from death threats, bomb threats or other school-related threats. Huntsville police say they take all of them seriously.

Huntsville Police Lieutenant Michael Johnson said, "those who make threats directly to other students, or pass a message to a student, or articulate something they're going to do is something we're not going to tolerate."

In this case, Grissom principal Jeanne Greer followed what's becoming a practiced protocol, informing the police immediately. Then, investigators identified the teen and took him into custody.

What's the motivation?

"That's why when something like this occurs," said Ward, "you'll usually find the principal emphasizing this is serious."

Johnson said it's hard to identify why student's make threats to schools. He said the majority of reports of threats in Huntsville schools involves a high school.

"The few threats we've had this year so far can be anything from the child's life at home to other issues," said Johnson.

See something, say something

Making a terroristic threat in the State of Alabama is a Class C felony. The student could face up to 10 years in prison. His case is now in the juvenile court system.

Many schools like Grissom have also used systems like Anonymous Alerts to help keep ahead of threats. Students can alert administrators of a potential problem through special portals on their school's website.


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