Parent help needed to end threats and hoax threats

— SUNNYSIDE — If the recent spike in threats of violence, and even threat hoaxes at Yakima Valley schools is giving you discomfort, imagine how the people dealing most closely with them feel.

“There are understandably heightened amounts of emotion, stress and anger,” Sunnyside Superintendent Kevin McKay said in a general message to the district. “School should be a place of learning, free of violence.”

McKay said Sunnyside School District wants to assure the community that school personel take every threat of school violence, whether written, through social media, or overheard, seriously.

He said each threat is investigated by school administrators and the Sunnyside Police Department.

“Perpetrators of such threats can face serious consequences, including suspension, expulsion, and legal repercussions as well,” he said.

McKay suggested everyone can help with this problem in some way. Some suggestions for parents are:

• Know what websites and social media sites your child is using. Look at what they are posting and who they are following.

• Emphasize that making a threat is not to be taken lightly and that there are severe consequences.

• Watch for changes in behavior and seek help if you see any child who needs assistance dealing with anxiety or feeling safe.

• Contact school administrators and law enforcement if you believe a child is capable of making a threat and following through.

• Parents, keep an open line of communication with your children and encourage them to tell you or another trusted adult if they become aware of a threat or rumor of violence.

“Working together at school and at home, we can and will make a difference for our children and our community,” McKay said. “Parents entrust their children to us on a daily basis, and as school employees, our greatest responsibility is to educate students in a safe environment.”


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