Copycat shooting threats in Mid-South reignite fears for parents, students

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It's become a trend seen across the nation – violent school threats breeding fear and anxiety.

Those threats are also creating frustration for educators, children, and parents.

"Kids watching what happened in Florida have a little bit of a distanced or even dissociated view of things, and social media becomes this way of trying to communicate things that not, and doesn't always feel real to them," therapist Michelle Rappaport said.

While the vast majority of these threats are anonymous and turn out to be hoaxes, all threats must be investigated and taken seriously.

Rappaport, a therapist for the last 20 years, said the threats of violence toward schools are often a cry for attention.

"I don't think kids know of other ways of trying to be heard, so they put it out on social media and I think that ensures they will be heard," Rappaport said.

Social media is now a forum where kids can express pain and struggles they can't say aloud, Rappaport said.

Since the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting two weeks ago, there have been 13 confirmed reports of separate threats against Mid-South schools, leading to the arrest of at least three students.

  1. Schilling Farms Middle School (Collierville Schools) -- Threats against school
  2. Collierville High School -- Threats against school
  3. Dyer County Schools -- A fake social media threat of violence
  4. Pope School (South Panola School District) -- Bomb threat
  5. Christian Brothers High School -- Someone wrote on the bathroom wall, threatening the school
  6. Cordova High School -- Social media post that included threatening language
  7. Strayhorn Schools (Tate County Schools) -- Snapchat video that was threatening towards the school
  8. Munford Middle School -- Sending a photo of himself with a gun to another student
  9. Senatobia Middle School -- Threat made to the school
  10. DeSoto Central Middle School -- A threatening social media post
  11. Corinth School District -- Threat was supposedly made via Snapchat
  12. Center Hill High School (DeSoto County School System)  -- 2 students arrested for involvement in cyberstalking via Snapchat
  13. Center Hill Middle School -- Threat of a shooting when classes let out

These threats often result in a secondary trauma for students, educators, and parents by reigniting fear.

"That's our challenge in today as parents and as professionals, teachers all of that; is to try to help our kids find some way to feel safe in this world," Rappaport said.

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