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Hillsborough Schools reminds students threats are not a joke

Posted at 2:46 PM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 19:33:15-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Hillsborough County school officials are reminding all students that posting threats online is nothing to joke about.

“We have too much important business to do in this community every day. We can’t be using our resources for this," said Superintendent Jeff Eakins.

No matter how harmless the intent is behind an online threat, they send fear into schools and can create a major panic.

“It just seems like ever since they came out with violent games, they think everything else is a game," said Adolfo Aguirre.

Last week, a 12-year-old girl in Hillsborough County was arrested after a threatening post on SnapChat directed at a middle school.

RELATED: 12-year-old girl arrested for threatening mass shooting at a Hillsborough middle school on SnapChat

Officials say there’s been a surge of false reports and hoaxes since the shootings at Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland.

But, it’s because of that real event they have to take them all seriously.

“Nobody wants that on their watch of the one that was missed," said Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan.

Officials say the new Fortify Florida app, as way for students to report potential danger, has had 14 bogus reports over the first 13 days of school.

Tampa Police say in the last year and half, they’ve had 72 calls about school threats.

Those led to 20 arrests, and 17 others who were Baker acted.

“If you see something say something. But also be careful what you say and what you post because it can be misconstrued. It can be a conversation from two friends that think they are funny and someone overhears it and then it turns into something else," said Dugan.

Police say investigating all those fake reports wastes time they could be putting into actual threats.

The school district is sending yet another reminder message, urging parents to talk with their children about the trouble they could get into.

“I’d take her phone away and ground her and make sure she’d never do that again," said Aguirre.

But, the consequences are much more serious than that. Threats can carry a felony charge that will stay with children for years.