Responding to School Threats

BCSS Logo on brick wall background

[Español] This semester, we have dealt with several unfounded threats at our schools. We want to share additional information with our parents and staff so we are collectively informed and prepared to respond moving forward.

We want to assure our community that the number one priority of your Barrow County School System, Winder Police Department, and the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office is student and staff safety. Every threat we receive is thoroughly investigated by schools, the district, and law enforcement.

We do not want our children to fear coming to school. We do not want parents to question sending their children to school or to fear for their safety. Please know if a school or facility is open, then it has been deemed safe by BCSS administration and law enforcement/emergency services.

Based on our investigations, these threats are falling into two primary categories.

  1. Social media. The threats are frequently posted on social media with a vague message of violence at a school. Often, these posts were generated somewhere else, often from another state, but the image/graphic was generic or modified to look like it might be targeted to one of our schools (known as copycat threats). These recirculated social media threats cause undue fear and panic. While the school system cannot control or delete social media posts, it does take all steps possible to report false claims.
  2. Disruption to learning. Students have realized that threats to school safety disrupt learning. Some students have made threats with the hopes of getting a test rescheduled or of not going to school that day. Students who make false threats are disciplined according to our policies (to include criminal charges if deemed appropriate).

We have become aware of another troubling post shared widely this week on the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, Dec. 17. The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend and did not originate in our school district. We have heard reports from other districts that the same post is circulating in their schools. While we do not believe the threat to be credible, we are closely monitoring the situation and taking it seriously.

These are examples of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, these acts not only disrupt the educational setting, but they have an impact on our law enforcement agencies and create unnecessary stress for our students, staff, parents, and administrators. We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online.

The most important deterrent to threats is an aware and engaged community. Any time you see or hear something suspicious concerning one of our schools, please report the suspicious activity. Contact school staff, your principal, BCSS central office, or local law enforcement immediately. Describe specifically what you observed, including:

  • Who or What you saw
  • When you saw it
  • Where it occurred
  • Why it's suspicious
  • Include screenshots and links where possible.

And of course, if there is an emergency, call 911 immediately.

Tip Line

The Barrow County School System also has a Tip Line where you can report any concerns you have regarding school safety. You can call or text 678-786-2144, or you can use this online form. Every tip is investigated. Our Tip Line is NOT monitored 24/7, so report emergencies through 911.

Please encourage your children and students to talk about any concerns they have about suspicious activity. Often students hear rumors or see something on social media days before BCSS staff are notified. We need your help to be informed quickly so we can react immediately. Share the Tip Line phone number with them and encourage them to use it for legitimate concerns.

While we have dealt with unsubstantiated threats, we are always concerned about a true intention to cause harm to others. Access to guns is one of the leading risk factors for deadly violence, therefore, it is important firearms or weapons are securely stored at home. Prevention starts with engaging in conversation with your children about school safety and how they can be a positive impact on the safety of our school system.

As always, thank you for your partnership as we work to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment for our students.

- Barrow County School System

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