Authorities announce a spike copycat shooting threats in the wake of the November 14th shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California. Multiple false threats were made against additional schools within the William S. Hart School District as early as the day after last Thursday’s shooting. The Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s department released a statement about their involvement in the investigation of “multiple false threats” in the days that followed the shooting, many of which were posted online.
Copycat Shooting Threats Rise Across the Region
Last weekend, many Southern California law enforcement officials found themselves in similar situations, as they investigated threats that rolled in across the region.
The different districts in the area reacted to these threats in their own way — Wilson High School in Long Beach held students back from lunch break an additional 25 minutes while investigating, Whittier Christian High School in La Habra canceled classes altogether until they ruled out the validity of a threat and San Dimas High School underwent a complete lockdown after a threat Monday afternoon — but each was eventually deemed unfounded.
While all of the threats appeared to be hoaxes, police reported one arrest was made. In Riverside, California, a 17-year-old faces charges for his part in a threat against Ramona High School.
Increased Threats Are Not Uncommon
Officials reminded parents and students it’s not uncommon after a school shooting for a rise in false threats.
Carole Lieberman MD, media psychiatrist and bestselling author of Lions and Tigers and Terrorists, Oh My! How to Protect Your Child in a Time of Terror, tells Parentology that these types of false threats usually occur because many teens view it as a game.
“They want to feel powerful by making teachers, school administrators, police and others run around to prevent violence at the place they threaten to attack,” she says. “They want to be in the headlines, too, like the original perpetrator.”
While these actions may be a form of passive-aggressive revenge on students who have bullied or excluded them, they create concern future threats of violence won’t be taken seriously as they’ll be deemed as “copycat threats.” To prevent this, Lieberman says anyone making false threats should be punished immediately and severely.
The shooting at Saugus High School last week was the 45th US school shooting of 2019.
Copycat Shooting Threats: Sources
Carole Lieberman MD, media psychiatrist and bestselling author of Lions and Tigers and Terrorists, Oh My! How to Protect Your Child in a Time of Terror