FBI's new campaign addresses growing trend of hoax threats against schools

Following the deadly school shootings at Santa Fe and Parkland, Florida, the FBI is seeing a significant spike in the number of hoax threats made against schools. To address the growing problem, the FBI along with local, state and school law enforcement agencies have launched a new, public awareness campaign called the #ThinkBeforeYouPostCampaign.

The campaign's goal is to warn the public that if caught, anyone, not matter how young can and will be punished seriously.

"Those who post threats on social media or send them via text or email can receive up to five years in federal prison, or face state and local criminal charges. This is true even if that person did not intend to or have the means to carry out the threat," said Perrye K. Turner, a Special Agent in Charge with the FBI. 

The FBI said the number of threats made against schools has more than doubled in the last year. 

In 2017, the FBI investigated 124 school threats and so far in 2018, they've already investigated 314 threats. However, many of them turn out to be fake.

Less than two weeks ago, two Santa Fe High School students were accused texting each other a "kill list." According to some parents, school administrators contacted them to let them know if their child's name was listed.

While those two kids were suspended from school for 75 days, the Galveston County District Attorney said the threats did not warrant any criminal charges. 

The threats were made less than four months after the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School that killed Rhonda Hart's daughter, Kimberly Vaughn, along with nine other people. Hart said kids need to realize this is not a joke. 

"I think that the kids just want the attention and so they post something on social media and they don't realize that there's going to be a direct consequence. My child's life got ruined because of threats and choices that somebody made," Hart said. 

In 2015, 19-year-old Zachary Lee Morgenstern of Cypress made a fake bomb threat to a school in Minnesota. He was convicted a few months later and served more than three years in federal prison. 

Not only are these threats a serious crime, authorities estimate that the number of officers it takes to investigate one fake threat could cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. 

"Folks need to understand that once you put something on social media or on the Internet, it doesn't ever go away. We will catch you. We will identify you. So it's really a silly crime to try and get away with. If you see something say something, or even better, if you see something, do something," said Capt. Tim Navarre, the Assistant Chief at the Harris County Sheriff's Office.  

The FBI also adds that kids as young as 10 years old can be held accountable for their actions.