School threats across the nation are on the rise.
Here in Southwest Florida, there have been five threats over the past week alone.
Now, parents are on edge about their kids going to school.
On Tuesday Maryann Gallegos, principal at East Naples Middle School, had to notify the community of an arrest of a 14-year-old boy accused of making a threat against Gallegos’ school.
There have also been threats at Fort Myers Middle Academy, Immokalee Middle, Ida Baker and Charlotte high schools.
The East Naples Middle School student, who WINK News is not naming, was arrested on Tuesday. He faces a charge of disrupting a school function and written electronic threat.
The arrest report states that over the course of two days the threat was responsible for about 300 student absences.
“It’s not a new normal that I like, I don’t at all, it’s super scary,” said Olivia Angeles. “It’s worse not to have any idea than to be a little bit afraid of something that’s possible.”
Her two kids are prepared for anything because Angeles knows they have to be.
“I said if you notice anything that’s not okay. Are there things are being said, maybe talk to somebody, talk to me, I can pass along that message,” Angeles said.
For Kimberly Beltran, these threats are scary.
“Uneasy? I don’t think anybody feels good about that, I think is a constant point of concern,” Beltran said.
Retired FGCU counseling professor Dr. Abbe Finn said that is a good approach.
“The parent needs to deal with their own sense of anxiety and concern because that’s what the child will take to school with them,” Finn said. “I think it’s important to answer the questions the child asks, ask, what do they know, what have they heard? What are their concerns, talk to them about all the different people that are at the school to keep them safe.”
As parents try to grapple with explaining these incidents to their children, authorities released more details on the East Naples arrest.
According to an arrest report, the threat was made on Snapchat. The image of the snap was shared in a group chat.
One student told authorities that the 14-year-old was the one who shared it in the group chat. The student said he was not at school because he was scared.
The 14-year-old told authorities that someone had posted the message to Snapchat and then deleted the message. He then said the person blocked him so he couldn’t review the story and attempted to pin the responsibility on a sixth grader.
However, the 14-year-old student later came clean in an email to the school. The student “admitted to the fact that no original post exists and he authored and posted the one post on Snapchat purposely to elicit a response from his friends.”
“It’s a bit unsettling, I think that maybe this cry for help, or kids are just looking for attention? Or just another way to? I don’t know, figure out their emotions,” said Sammi Treglown, a student mother.
A cry for help is exactly what these threats are, according to Finn.
“I’d say that’s, that’s an indication that this child needs more support somewhere. It maybe it’s group counseling, maybe it’s, you know, something’s not right,” Finn said.
Finn, the retired counseling professor, said parents should try to resist keeping children from school after a threat because shootings are still incredibly rare and routine is really important for children.