Families with children at Van Nuys High School were given a shock last week when a student threatened violence on campus through the social media platform, SnapChat on a Sunday evening.
Thankfully, it was a false alarm. Classes were remained in session on Monday, with some increased police presence.
According to Sergeant Adam Broderick, an investigator with the LAPD's Major Crimes Division, this kind of incident happens with some frequency, although it may not always make the headlines.
Major Crimes fields the more complicated cases of school threats. And they've found that most often, the kids issuing the threats either don't appreciate the seriousness of their act, or may do so as a cry for help. "There are no actual intentions to commit a violent act," said Sgt. Broderick. "However, it doesn't mean they don't mean the criteria for a criminal threat."
The LAPD has launched an educational campaign, "End It. Don't Send It" aimed at teaching kids about the legal gravity of making threats of violence on campus, and how it could derail their entire lives.
Major Crimes hopes that if they can impart this message to students and parents, they can prevent kids from making that one stupid mistake that could catapult them into the criminal justice system. Through school meetings and a social media campaign, they want kids to understand that making a threat, even if they don't mean it, is against the law and can land them in jail.
Sgt. Broderick wants parents to know that they need to be aware of what their kids are doing on their phones and to talk with them about how to use it responsibly. "Make sure that you have these conversations with them about sending these types of threats, and what to do if they should receive a threat or to become aware of a threat, to let an adult know."