LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It's a disturbing trend across america and here in our valley. Teens taking to social media, posting threats against their schools.
It's a scary scenario for parents and students. 13 Action News Anchor Todd Quinones spoke with Clark County School District police to find out what's being done to protect our kids. It's part one of a special Raising The Bar report.
"How big of a problem is this?" asks Todd. "It's a pretty large problem," says Sgt. Bryan Zink with the CCSD Police Department.
Hiding behind a device, many teens these days are venting their anger and frustration online. The Clark County School District says that's what's scaring many local students.
"20% of the kids don't feel safe going to school. That's 20% too many," says Sgt. Zink.
Sometimes that anger and frustration turns into threats on social media. The goal of the CCSD Police is to find those behind the threats and make sure they don't turn into something bigger. The latest arrest involves Ranjoseph Wallace. The 18-year-old accused of posting a social media threat he would "shoot up" a football game at Legacy High School.
Other online threats made this year include: the arrest of a Fresno California 16-year-old, a high school student in Washington state and a middle school student in South Carolina.
"It happens more often than you think," says 16-years-old valley teen Allison. "I feel like the internet makes people way more brave," says her mother Melissa Sadler.
13 Action News spoke with a local family who says, everyone should do their part in stopping possible attacks.
"I definitely would report it. Maybe even talk to them," says Melissa's 14-year-old daughter Leah. "It comes down to the parenting... To have a conversation with their kids. To know what is right and what is wrong to say online or to anyone," says Melissa.
BEST LINE OF DEFENSE
It turns out, school district police believe that's the best line of defense.
"How do you stop this?" asks Todd. "The key thing to try to stop this is just to have parents talk to their students," says Sgt. Zink.
He says schools can only do so much. He wants to see parents take more of an active role to check what their kids are doing online. When a parent, friend or anyone else suspects someone may be dangerous, they're encouraged to call SafeVoice. It's an anonymous system for reporting tips with live response 24/7, 365 days a year.
"SafeVoice has been phenomenal. Several of the bigger cases we've worked that have had a terroristic threat or even drug cases, we've gotten great tips from SafeVoice... I think last year SafeVoice alone got over 5,000 tips," says Sgt. Zink.
Since last school year, school district police have arrested 53 students for terroristic threats against a school. Zink says the school district has a dedicated officer looking into tips coming into the valley's Fusion Center, where officers from each jurisdiction collect and analyze data. He says advancements in technology and new partnerships are also helping.
"There are agencies within the United States government and groups that work for the government that do look for keywords that are posted on social media and will alert us," says Sgt. Zink.
Many social media companies are also more willing to work with law enforcement these days, to help prevent any possible attacks. But in the end Zink says, it's the people closest to a possible suspect who need to be willing to say something.
"Generally, they always let somebody know or somebody observes a behavior, a friend or acquaintance, that just doesn't seem right which gives them concern. We always applaud those people when they come forward and tell us," says Sgt. Zink.
In part two of our special Raising The Bar report, 13 Action News speaks with the FBI and U.S. Attorney about just how seriously they're taking these school threats.