Florida Dept. of Juvenile Justice starts school threat awareness campaign

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
September 17, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice announced Tuesday it launched an awareness campaign focused on addressing school threats students make.

The "It's No Joke" campaign's goal is to stop students from making school threats, since doing so can lead to being arrested and charged with a felony.

So far this school year, WCTV has reported on four incidents were local students made threats against schools online.

On August 6, a teen left a message on Snapchat saying they were going to bring weapons and do harm at Lowndes Middle School. That same day, the FBI notified the Wakulla County School Board about a Wakulla High student's social media post of a "threatening nature."

On August 7, a 13-year-old Swift Creek Middle School student was arrested after they made comments agreeing to shoot up a school on a photo they posted two months before school was back in session.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office arrested a 15-year-old for making threats against James Madison Preparatory High School on August 26.

“We want young people in Florida to understand that, in today’s environment, every threat is taken very seriously and, even if made in jest, can lead to devastating consequences,” said DJJ Secretary Simone Marstiller. “There is nothing funny about threatening a school, and there is nothing funny about being charged with a felony. We want young people to think twice before casually threatening violence in their schools.”

The DJJ said school related offenses include making false reports about bombs, explosives or firearms and having or firing a weapon on campus or at a school-sponsored event.

Threats made online, like on social media or gaming sites, can lead to students getting charged with a felony offense, DJJ said.

The "It's No Joke" campaign encourages students, parents and teachers to report any and all threats they're aware of to police.

“Our top priority is the safety and security of students and teachers,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “It is critical that students take threats very seriously and report suspicious activity. I encourage all students and educators to download the FortifyFL app to report potentially unsafe situations, which could prevent a tragedy.”

Over the least three years, more Florida youth have been charged with school threat related offenses. The number grew from 629 minors charged in fiscal year 2016-17 to 687 in fiscal year 2017-18. Finally, 779 minors were charged with a school threat offense in fiscal year 2018-19.

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