What's driving spike in school threats since mass shooting in Parkland, Florida?

Posted at 5:23 PM, Feb 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-27 18:48:14-05

CINCINNATI -- You haven't imagined it: Threats to schools have multiplied since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Seven times as many, in fact. In the Tri-State, at least 12 young people have been arrested over the past two weeks. One threat closed Reading, Ohio schools Tuesday.

For David Marcus, a Greater Cincinnati psychologist, that's a sign America's children need more support, more nurturing and more socialization.

"This rash of threats now, they saw these kids on TV from Parkland and they said, 'Gee that's really cool, I'd like to get that kind of attention, too,'" Marcus said.

Ohio has been the most-impacted state, with 44 incidents and threats from Feb. 15 to 23. Kentucky was fifth, with 28. The statistics come from the Educator's School Safety Network, a national organization that offers training and consulting to schools, teachers, students and first responders. It also tracks incidents and threats of school violence.

Since Feb. 15, the Educator's School Safety Network reports there have been 546 incidents and threats -- an average of 78 each day. Typically, there are about 10 per day.

The recent threats have affected 491 schools nationwide. Most have involved guns' and in most cases, the threat comes on social media -- the same place some children might be bullied. 

Others might suffer from alienation from their peers.

"Kids often seek negative attention because they're not being attended to," Marcus said. They'll act out inappropriately and can intensify into more outlandish behavior, he said.

Marcus believes too much media consumption, generally, can be part of the problem: Children just spend too much time in a fantasy behind a screen, he said -- instead of playing in real life "and finding out if they hit somebody, they hit them back." 

He thinks that lack of socialization is tied to decreased empathy.

And he warned it's important to keep weapons out of that equation.

"Too much fantasy, not enough attending too, not enough nurturing, and a weapon? Put them together and you've got a perfect storm," he said.