At least 10 schools receive threats in aftermath of shooting

12:25 AM, Mar 2, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- In the aftermath of the Chardon shooting tragedy, several local police and school districts have responded to a range of threats made on campuses across the region.

Crestwood High School (Mantua), Revere Middle School (Bath Twp.), Green High School and the L.E.A.P. Program in Green all dealt with threats or rumors on Tuesday.

North Royalton High School, Cleveland Central Catholic and Glenville High School (Cleveland) experienced brief lockdowns on Wednesday.

Rocky River High School and Normandy High School (Seven Hills) dealt with threats on Thursday.

Also Thursday, Memorial Middle School in Mentor investigated and removed one student from campus for making threats.

In each investigation, police either found the threats unsubstantiated or took the student who originated the threat into custody.

Experts say copycat incidents are very common after a school crisis.

The bigger the story, the greater the chance of a rumor somewhere else, Dr. Scott Poland says.

"It happens every single time," Poland said.

Poland is a nationally renowned expert on school crises and the psychology of a shooting. He's responded to over a dozen shootings at schools around the world, including Columbine in 1999.

"As much as we believe they should understand, teenagers do not necessarily understand the finality of death. They are very susceptible to imitation," Poland said.

Police agree.

"It could be a call for help. It could be attention-getting, 'look at me' [behavior]," said North Royalton Detective David Loeding.

Detective David Loeding, with the North Royalton Police Department, says teenagers may think that an image or threatening language they post on the Internet will not be traced back to them. 

That's not necessarily true. Police can -- and do -- subpoena entire Facebook accounts, if they have cause.

Poland thinks school shooters fall into three different profiles. 

1 - Psychopath (no conscience)
2 - Mentally ill (diagnosable illness)
3 - Traumatized (having a sad, depressed life circumstance)

Poland says there is a difference between the kid who makes a vague threat and the one who follows through.

"School shooters -- and we've studied them for years -- they are not normal kids," Poland said. "There are very significant things wrong in their life and we need to push for more mental health services and more awareness."

He emphasizes the importance of prevention, and not just by security.  

Adequate funding for counselors and mental health services in schools is essential, Poland says.


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