Social media postings spark increase in violence threats to Sacramento area students

Schools throughout the Sacramento region have been grappling with viral TikTok videos since the beginning of December


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Social media posts are increasingly threating violence to students.

Kylie Huang, Mira Loma High School

Threats to the safety of students at school have become more apparent with the use of social media. 

Annmarie Jessil is a junior at Mira Loma High School. She remembers one such threat targeting her own school, among others.

 “(It was) during the first semester,” she says, “Someone threatened to shoot a school in the San Juan (Unified) district.”

Schools throughout the Sacramento region have been grappling with viral TikTok videos since the beginning of December. According to the Washington Post, during this time, students across the nation were encouraged by these TikTok videos to make their own false gun threats to their schools. Because of this, school administrators have been forced to decide how these anonymous claims should be addressed. This has led to more shooter drills, leading to an increase in student discussions about their own mental health and the question of safety at school. 

According to the Washington Post, there have been 42 school shootings in the United States in 2021 alone. This year’s total is the highest it has ever been in two decades, even with the amount of distance learning that was conducted because of the COVID 19 pandemic. 

Samantha Marsee, a junior at St. Francis High School, says the issue troubles her.

“I was aware of one school shooting threat at Jesuit (a nearby school),” she says, “which made me feel somewhat scared and nervous.”

Jessil, the Mira Loma junior, disagrees. To her, there is no reason to focus on mental health when the situation cannot be controlled.  

“I feel (indifferent) about these threats mainly because there’s nothing I can really do,” Jessil says, “so there’s no point in worrying about it.” 

Instead of unnecessarily worrying about the risk of a school shooting, Jessil says she focuses on her education over the seemingly slim possibility of these viral school shooting threats actually becoming reality. 

“Obviously it’s horrible that school shootings happen,” she says, “but I still have to go to school either way.”

The way schools have acted on these threats has differed greatly throughout the Sacramento region. Some schools choose only to act on threats made directly at their students, while others have taken more precautionary measures. 

“My school (St. Francis) didn’t do anything about these threats since they weren’t at my school,” Marsee says. 

At Mira Loma, parents were alerted to any threats being made, although Jessil said she believes even more action needs to be taken. 

“I don’t think the school is doing enough,” she says, “(the) main reason being that when there was a school shooting threat, they sent the information to parents and not students. Half of the time parents don’t read these emails.” 

Even so, these emails have kept parents updated with the most recent information. They detail the current situation, as well as what the school plans to do to effectively deal with the recent threats. 

In one such email the principal of Mira Loma, Cletus Purinton, wrote: “This week we have learned of warnings being posted on TikTok about nationwide school shootings on Dec. 17… Law enforcement is also aware of these posts and the district’s Safe Schools team will continue to monitor for any updates related to these rumors.”

Jessil says students at Mira Loma – despite administration communication via email to parents – often remain in the dark when it comes to the possibility of a school shooting.

“I personally didn’t even know there was a threat,” she says, “until after I had gotten to school and was halfway through all my classes.” 

Jessil says there is still much more that schools can do to make their students feel safer and be safer.  

“I think schools should send information about possible threats to students directly to make sure (all) students are informed,” she says. 

Marsee points to the importance of mindset for school administrators when approaching the growing threats concerning violence towards students. 

“I think schools should act assertively but also proceed with caution towards these threats so as to quickly and calmly stop the potential gun violence,” she says. 

Some of these suggestions have already been carried out by schools in Sacramento. 

In an email to Mira Loma parents on Dec. 17, Purinton wrote, “I wanted to inform you that today staff became aware of a rumor of a threat of violence against our school. We immediately contacted our Safe Schools team to investigate, along with local law enforcement. While these rumors are still under investigation, the involved students have been identified. Please know that we are taking all precautions to ensure student and staff safety.”

The most important thing is to remember the reality of the situation and understand the possible consequences of these threats. 

“I wish people knew how serious school shootings actually are,” Marsee says. “They can truly take someone’s life.”