COLORADO, USA — More threats targeting schools and libraries were reported on Wednesday after a week of unspecified threats, pranks and "swatting" calls. The people responsible for the fake threats could face local or federal charges.
Earlier this week, several high schools across the state dealt with similar kinds of threats.
On Wednesday, Cherry Creek Schools sent a letter to parents acknowledging "a series of social media threats." Schools remained open.
The Denver Public Library also received an "unspecified threat" overnight. It said out of an abundance of caution, all locations and bookmobile stops would be closed.
Safe2Tell, a violence intervention program that students, parents and community members can report threats to anonymously, has seen a 207% increase in threat reports from July to August, as students returned to school.
"When someone reports a false threat, for example, a planned school shooting, they are committing a crime," said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. "People are sometimes moved by social media platforms like TikTok to think it might be a prank to make up threats. It's serious business. It's a crime. Don't do it."
Out of the more than a thousand reports made to Safe2Tell in August, the attorney general's office said 2.6% were false reports. It said a false report contains untrue information and is submitted with the intent to harm, injure or bully another person.
"We need students to take seriously any signs of real threats and if you have something that is a false threat, please don't spread it. Don't play along with it," said Weiser. "It's serious business."
In August, Safe2Tell received 1,071 reports. The top three threat categories are:
- Suicide threats (132)
- Bullying (93)
- School complaints (75)
The Colorado Attorney General's Office said "school complaints" is a general category available for people to choose from when submitting their reports, and could include a variety of general school safety concerns.
"There are continued and a wide variety of success stories, all of which have a single common denominator," Weiser said. "Students report something or parents report something that allows action either by school administrators, mental health professionals or even law enforcement to take action before it’s too late."
He said Safe2Tell started after the Columbine tragedy.
"The concern that happened after Columbine is some kids knew about this threat to the school but no one knew where to go," said Weiser.
Weiser said Safe2Tell is a successful program that has saved lives.
"We know it's prevented suicide," he said. "We know it's helped keep guns away from schools and we know it's addressed a range of other threats to bullying and selling drugs in school."
Weiser said as the school year ramps up, it's likely reports will increase again in September.
"During the pandemic, during remote schooling, we did see a real decline. We're now building back up to where we were before," he said. "Now as people come back into social environments, into school, please check in with other people, see how they're doing and as you see anything that's harmful to students, let us know about it at Safe2Tell."
If you'd like to report a threat at your school, click on this link. Your report will remain anonymous.
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