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Students continue to make threats at local schools

Posted at 10:38 PM, Mar 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-21 22:38:59-04

A 17-year old was in court Wednesday for making a school threat.

Anthony Roberson was arrested two weeks ago for threatening to shoot a gun at Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens. He's now being charged as an adult and could face years in jail.

At the same time, another teenager is facing similar charges in Pahokee this week. A 13-year old posted on Snapchat saying they were going to "shoot up" Glades Academy School. The Palm Beach Sheriff's Office quickly arrested the teenager and charged them with "Written threats to kill and do bodily injury with mass shooting."

In both cases, each student claimed they were only joking.

However, local law enforcement is not taking any threat lightly.

"It's harder to grasp the reality," said licensed psychologist Dr. Rachel Needle with Whole Health Psychological Center.

She says these continued threats by students could be a craving for attention.

"It could be disrupt education for whatever reason, immaturity -- they think it's a joke. They're lonely, they're seeking attention," she said.

She says there's also a biological aspect to it as well.

"For children, their frontal lobe isn't fully developed so decision making skills aren't fully developed so they're making poor choices," said Dr. Needle.

Since the Parkland shooting, Palm Beach County Schools said they've investigated more than 20 threats at various campuses across the district. Most of these were known about through tips.

"Because those kids believe in us. And have built those relationships with us," said school district police chief Lawrence Leon.

If a threat is serious enough, that student can expect to be arrested and charged. Punishment depends on mental health and prior history of misconduct. Most juveniles are put through a rehabilitation program to ensure they understand the consequences and do not commit an act like that again.

"We work hard to maintain that safety as officers," said Chief Leon.

Needle stressed that it is important for parents to once again sit down with their children and talk to them.

"It should be an ongoing discussion. So, sit your children down tonight for sure -- start to talk to them about what's been going on. Find out what they've heard and let me them talk and communicate," she said. "And then talk to them about the potential risks and consequences of making such statements."