Social Media Threats

Hello! I’m Kurt Browning, Pasco County superintendent
of schools. On Friday, I had to go in front of TV news
cameras again to react to the arrest of a student for writing something absolutely inappropriate
on social media. He is at least the 13th student arrested this
school year for social media posts about killing others. The student arrested on Friday, actually offered
to pay someone to kill a Pasco County Schools employee. And, like the others, he said he was just
joking. This is no joke, and I – HAVE – HAD – ENOUGH! Principals and I have pleaded with parents
over and over to talk to their students about the serious consequences for making social
media threats. We have appealed directly to students in multiple
ways. We have used every avenue we can think of
to get the message through to students that we take every threat seriously and we will
work with law enforcement to press charges. The consequences can ruin your life! It is time for this community as a whole to
stand up and say we will not take this type of behavior anymore. It IS a community problem, and it is having
a serious negative impact on our schools. Adults need to model civility and responsible
social media behavior – ALL – THE – TIME. We need to stop attacking others. There is just too much anger expressed too
often and folks are fearful. People also need to stop spreading unconfirmed
rumors. Instead of sharing social media rumors and
causing panic and anxiety, contact law enforcement. Let them investigate first. The Pasco Sheriff’s Office has a terrific
cyber security staff in their real-time crime center, and they have an incredible record
of finding the sources of social media threats – or determining that they are just rumors. More parents need to take control of their
children’s devices and social media apps. You can download apps on your student’s
phone that require your permission for an app to be downloaded and give you access to
their social media activity. It is your right – and responsibility – as
the parent to know what your child is doing and with whom they are communicating. One example of such an app is “Bark.” The district’s director of safety and security
uses it with his kids. He does it because he loves them and he doesn’t
want them to get into trouble. We need to work together as Pasco County citizens
to let this school district focus on teaching and learning. The sheriff’s office and school leaders
have had to spend too much time responding to rumors and mostly unfounded threats, and
until everyone sees this as the crisis that it is, our community will suffer… learning
will suffer. We are here to prepare children for college,
career, and life, and we must be able to do so in a safe environment free from this type
of disruption. Thank you for helping us return to our mission
of providing a world-class education for all students.

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