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What can Utah parents do about school shooting threats?

Posted at 5:18 PM, Dec 16, 2021

MAGNA, Utah — Social media gives school shooting threats the ability to spread like wildfire, and kids are using platforms like TikTok to keep up with the trend by hitting share.

WATCH: Utah schools warn of viral TikTok shooting threat trend

Luckily for parent Joey Perea, the information of a threat at Matheson Junior High School was also shared with parents late Wednesday.

“What concerned me the most is when he did start naming off actual kids and teachers,” said Perea.

Perea pulled all three of his kids from school Thursday after learning about the very specific shooting threat made by a Matheson student.

“Being a coach , I want to know what’s going on, so I asked the kids and they told me, he’s become the kid in school that everyone kind of makes fun of," Perea shared. "I told them, hey, this is a form of bullying, and this has got to stop.”

Also Thursday, a more generic threat circulated across social media, making students feel on edge and afraid for their lives.

“I’ve seen a dozen kids come into the front office here at this particular school location that feared for their lives. This is not healthy, and not sustainable and schools can’t do this alone," said Ben Horsley, spokesperson for Granite School Dist.

Horsley says the problem needs teamwork to solve.

“The frustrating thing is parents who don’t understand the technology, but are allowing their kids access to it, are calling on the school to monitor their kids’ social media accounts,” Horsley said.

WATCH: School threats in Utah part of nationwide trend

In the Granite School District there are 62,000 students, so Horsley is pleading with parents to help.

“It’s frustrating to see kids not tell anybody and simply share the information and promulgating that fear.”

David Walker with Strategies for Youth says right now is a great time to start a conversation with your child about social media.

“It scares me as a parent," said Walker. "I hope that you, as my child, understand the severity of these threats and actions that some kids are taking. How do you feel about it?”

Walker said kids don’t have the awareness to consider the consequences of their actions

“To post a picture of them holding a firearm, they see the likes they’ll get, the peers that will comment and the recognition, without thinking of the consequences of what will happen later,” added Walker.

Which is why parents can start that conversation and hopefully help kids share with a parent or the school instead of their social media feed.

Horsley said all suspicious Instagram accounts are reported, but added that it takes many attempts to get an account removed, and soon after, usually a new account is made.

He wants to remind students, posting threats is a crime and they will be prosecuted, whether they were joking or not.