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How Can Facebook Threats be Handled?

From Flickr (click for original)
From Flickr (click for original)

Yesterday, I stumbled across this article by Katie Ash. It talks about two different incidents where students used Facebook to post school shooting threats.  In the first story, a student’s post went unnoticed for five months until authorities learned of it.   In the second story, a threat was made in PEI and administrators decided to keep the school open just with tighter security. Apparently, the decision to keep the school open was because there was no way to contact students and families on such short notice.  Needless to say, parents were not pleased that they were not made aware of the threat.   Katie goes on to suggest that parents are expecting schools to be able to get the message out quickly with all the available communication tools of today.

This article brought up some interesting thoughts.

How can a shooting threat go without action for 5 months?   Was it only because it was made through Facebook?  If  dangerous threats like this are occurring on Facebook, should accounts be monitored?  What if this student came a week after his post and “shot the place up”?  Should something not have been immediately when the threat was made?

Now with regards to letting parents know quickly.  We do have incredible technology capable of reaching enormous amounts of people in no time, why couldn’t it be utilized to warn students and their families of such a threat?  They certainly could make a list of cellphone numbers to text, twitter accounts to tweet, emails to email, and so on.   The radio works great, but I’m sure even less people listen to it than ever before, so more and more ways to communicate a message like this should be explored.

What do you think about these two situations?  What can be done to better handle similar situations in the future? They certainly made me think about how technology should maybe be monitored and how effectively it is currently being used.

Opinions

  1. Post comment

    The thought that a threat like that went unoticed for five months and no action was made to go through with the act is interesting. It was obvioulsy an empty threat but being no one noticed it is fairly scary. And I do agree that there should be something in tact to allow quick notice to parents of serious threats like these. Keeping the school open with tighter security is not a good solution. With our technology today I think there is some possible way for them to notify everyone.

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    I can see how a social network within each classroom and one for the entire school should be set up for emergencies like the one you described. This way the “word” can get out and if the parents choose to send the kids to school under tighter security it would be their decision, not the schools call. As a parent I would have had some choice words for the principle. All teachers should at least have a twitter account which they check every night to see the day’s news. About facebook being monitored, I witnessed a post that was getting out of hand and I think would have ended up recruiting some people together to go get a cat abuser. The post got deleted from no where and the person’s account got shut down for the day. Forgot to ask what happened but it sure looked like it was a monitoring issue.

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      Teri, you’re probably right in that it was an empty threat. But what if it wasn’t, what if everyone thought it was a joke and no one did anything about it. And yes, there has to be a way to better notify parents and families.

      Shari, it’s nice to hear from a parent on this perspective since I can’t give an honest perspective. It should be up to a parent to make a decision regarding their child’s safety if they can. That is good that some sort of action was taken regarding the Facebook post. However, just because the post got removed, did the problem get solved?

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    That’s a good point Kyle. Facebook does monitor accounts, but do these monitoring systems go to authorities about what they see? Or do they just sweep everything under the rug and pretend nothing is wrong? I wonder if there’s a way to find that out. I might try to find more information on it later. If I find something interesting, you can bet I’ll have a blog about it.
    Just to comment on your blog though, in my opinion, every school should have their own website. Parents could check the website every morning before shipping their children off. I know not every parent would do this daily task, because for the most part it would be the same monotonous announcements every day, but it would still keep everybody informed. It would be the parent’s decision to check the website or not. If the parent didn’t check the website, it would put the responisibility on them, and not the school. Because the majority of our population owns a computer, it would be quite simple. As for the minority that doesn’t have access to a computer, I think that a phone call would be necessary. The website option eliminates almost the whole population, so only a handful of families would need to be contacted by phone.

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      Definitely let me know if you find anything out about that! The website is a good idea. But how early can they update a website? What if parents have to be at work for 6 or 7 and the threat is discovered around the same time or later. These early working parents wouldn’t be able to know even if they checked early. That’s the only problem I see with that solution. But I’m sure if there was a right and easy answer we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

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