'It actually does worry me a lot': Orange Co. Schools talks school threats as trend rises nationwide

Cindy Bae Image
Thursday, April 13, 2023
Threats involving schools on the rise nationwide
As threats, often made through social media, are aimed at schools across the country, Orange County students and educators are discussing safety.

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Orange County school student Daniel Castro is thankful he hasn't had to experience a school threat firsthand. But as violent threats, often made through social media, are aimed at schools across the country, it's starting to feel like his confidence is wavering as he wonders whether and when it'll be his school.

"I don't think I'm ready for when it does, "Castro said. "I am graduating in like a month or two, but my little brother is coming to this school and it actually does worry me a lot."

Nearly 6,000 school-related threats were reported to the FBI nationwide in 2022, a 60% increase from 2021, according to the FBI.

Some of those school threats have been shared countless times in other places, including Orange County, where in April, officials investigated a social media post from 2018 that was originally created in New Mexico.

"Some students were responding to a recirculating post from 2018 about potential violence at CHS (not CRHS)," Orange County Sheriff's Office's Alicia Stemper said. "We still investigated it ... and determined no threat had been made against the Cedar Ridge High School Community."

However, some parents and students remain concerned about their safety as Triangle schools continue to deal with school threats and gun violence.

For example, several Wake County schools were forced to dismiss early in February because of school threats.

"It's scary," Orange County Schools parent Channise Brown said. "You're sending your kid to school, you want them back home safely. You're thinking, "Is it going to happen in the school? How are they going to get in? Are the schools locked?"

The Orange County Board of Commissioners organized a schools safety task force that met in Hillsborough on Thursday as part of their scheduled meetings between January and June of 2023.

Commissioner Earl McKee said safer schools are critical in any climate.

"I do not believe that the kids who are anxious over their safety can learn to their full potential," McKee said. "I don't think the parents can be happy and satisfied that their children are safe unless they know there are procedures and protocols in place."

Thursday's meeting included a presentation on best practices for safer schools, with law enforcement officials and some Orange County students in attendance.