KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The anxiety is real even if the threats prove not to be.
It's FOX 4's practice to evaluate threats before reporting them; knowing threats often produce copycats and knowing also that some who make the threats do so for fame or their own amusement, motivations that should not be encouraged with publicity.
However, nine days after the Parkland, Fla., high school mass shooting that killed 17, school districts in the Kansas City metro area and across the country are increasingly attentive to the stress these threats cause. They also realize every threat must be dissected to determine if it's an immature joke, a cry for help or something real and dangerous.
On Friday, two local schools were on alert after threatening messages were spread across social media.
Park Hill High School left parents an automated message Friday morning that alerted them of a threat targeting the high school. According to the message, the student who made the threat has since been removed from the school, and everyone at the school is safe.
The following message was sent to Park Hill High School parents:
"This morning, just prior to 4:00 a.m., the police alerted us to the fact a student had made a threat to Park Hill High School on social media. Kansas City Missouri Police and the County Sheriff’s Departments will have an increased presence at school today, both inside and outside our building. Law enforcement is working with the student and family, and the student will not be in attendance at Park Hill today. We appreciate how quickly the people who saw this threat reported it to the police and how helpful the police were to us in making sure the school would be safe. Student and staff safety has been, and will remain, our greatest priority at Park Hill. I will be addressing the students this morning with the information about the threat and will keep you and your children informed of any new information should it materialize."
According to Darin Snapp with the Kansas City Police Department, the student told his parents that the threat was a joke. Someone reportedly spotted the threat on social media and alerted police.
KCK Public Schools also alerted families Friday that they are aware of recent threats on social media.
Administrators sent out a note to families urging people to report tips about threats to either an administrator or the TIPS Hotline (816) 474-TIPS. KCK police are also investigating as well.
The district issued the following statement to parents:
"We are aware of some threats that have circulated via social media. Some of them have been found to have originated elsewhere, and the rest we are investigating, along with the KCK Police Department. While it would not be appropriate to discuss specific steps we are taking to keep our students safe, you can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to make sure that all our students and staff are safe."
The schools do not comment on the discipline these students face as a result of the threats.