SAN BENITO, Texas (ValleyCentral)— According to EducationWeek.org, there have been six school shootings in 2023 and numerous cyber threats made by students.
ValleyCentral reached out to Dr. Diana Chapa, child and adolescent psychiatrist with UTRGV School of Medicine, about these alarming trends, and she says this generation is not seeing the difference between the online world and reality. By blurring those lines, children are not realizing that there are consequences to their actions.
Chapa said signs of bullying to look for in child behavior are becoming more irritable, not wanting to go to school, no longer wanting to engage in things they liked before, not getting enough sleep and a change in their friend groups.
“If you’re noticing anything like that, that’s one of the early signs to be able to say, ‘Hey, let’s talk about what’s going on,'” Chapa said. “Because by the time you can’t do that, by the time the violent act is perpetuated, it’s too late.”
According to the National Cyber Security Center, there was a 38% increase in cyber threats last year compared to 2021. Education, government and health care organizations were targeted the most.
Words have power, and while some may think a verbal threat can be meaningless, you could be charged for making a terroristic threat, even if it was made in a “private conversation.”
Judge Adela Kowalski-Garza, with the 484th district court, said all threats are taken seriously, even if the threat was said as a “joke.”
“Too bad so sad,” Kowalski-Garza said. “You’ve committed the crime of terroristic threat, a third-degree felony because you had the intent of interrupting or disrupting the occupation of a building.”
All threats are taken seriously, so officials advise parents to talk to their children and tell them to think twice before making a threat, online or in person.
“Whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, we automatically detain any terroristic threats,” said Rose Gomez, Chief of Juvenile Probation for Cameron County. “And we take them before the court.”
She said children who make terroristic threats are usually screened at Tropical Texas Behavioral Health “to determine if that child was an imminent threat to others.”