West Van police investigate social media threat against high school

Officials at West Vancouver’s Rockridge Secondary have reassured parents it’s safe for students to go to school today after an alarming post apparently circulated among teens on social media Sunday.

Rockridge principal Judy Duncan sent out an email to parents Sunday evening, saying the school had been made aware of an “upsetting message” about Rockridge posted on social media and had called in West Vancouver police.

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Parents and teens were circulating copies of the post apparently made by a student at the school Sunday evening.

“This pitifully ruled school of ours will come to an end tomorrow,” read the post. “This is a threat. Not some rant so take action now.”

Some parents said their teens who saw the message or who became aware of it through friends were alarmed and shaken by the message.

A number of Rockridge students apparently decided to skip school on Monday morning following the incident, according to parents and students at the school.

Sean Nosek, associate superintendent of schools, said the school did hear concerns from a handful of parents.

"Anytime people see a post on social media that might be related to a school or their children, they have a right to be concerned,” he said.

"We  totally get in an age of social media how quickly things can spread.

Nosek said he was at Rockridge Monday morning, and it certainly felt like a normal day.

West Vancouver Police Department spokesman Const. Kevin Goodmurphy confirmed Sunday evening that police investigated the post by the teen and determined, “there is no credible threat at this time.”

Goodmurphy said police began receiving “multiple calls from concerned students as well as parents” about the social media post that was circulating on Snapchat Sunday afternoon.

“Obviously, whenever there’s anything threatening in nature aimed towards our schools or our students we take it very seriously,” said Goodmurphy.

Police quickly identified the student responsible for the post and spoke to the teen and his parents, said Goodmurphy, to assess whether there was any real danger.

“We’re looking at the bigger picture when we’re determining if there is any credibility and if public safey is at risk,” he said. That includes looking at the person’s emotional state, any diagnosed health or mental health issues as well as whether the person making such a post has the means to carry it out or access to that.

Nosek confirmed Monday that the student who posted the threat "will not be attending school until further notice.”

Goodmurphy said while the threat in this case was found not to be credible, police do want to know if threatening posts are being made online. “If we don’t know about it, we can’t investigate it,” he said.

Goodmurphy added it’s also important for teens to keep in mind that “anything they’re posting for the masses, [people are] going to see it. Just be cautious of what you’re posting and how you’re posting it. Because once it’s out there it’s out there.”

West Vancouver police officers were on hand at Rockridge Secondary Monday morning, along with school district staff, to greet students, staff and parents, and answer any questions, said Goodmurphy.

Nosek said school officials understand how incidents like the one at Rockridge can travel quickly on social media and trigger fears in some people, but added,  “We are asking people politely not to participate in the spread of rumours and misinformation. It's not very helpful.”



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