School safety officials react to recent threats made at Maine schools

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:01 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Students at Calais Middle/High School are expected to be back in the building Friday.

It’s the latest school to close in less than two weeks due to a threat.

School officials say the move to cancel school was a precaution.

WABI spoke to safety experts Thursday on the credibility of these threats and whether parents should be alarmed.

”The reality is, this is the world we live in, and it’s unpleasant and no one wants to think about it or train about it and resource it, but this is the world we live in,” said Michael Kamorski, Associate Professor in the School of Legal Studies at Husson University. “Although 99% of those threats may go to be nothing, it’s the 1% that you miss that you will never forget.”

A number of schools around the state have been evacuated or classes have been canceled altogether due to threats with Calais Middle/High School being the latest.

On Tuesday, schools in Orono closed because of a threat.

Last week, the same was true for Old Town High School, Portland High School, and schools in MSAD 6 in the Standish area.

Fairmount School in Bangor was briefly evacuated Friday after a threatening note was found in the building.

School safety experts say tensions are high right now due to our societal disruption.

However, parents should not be alarmed as schools are following all necessary protocols.

“Parents need to know that statistically speaking, schools are one of the safest places for your children, period,” said Jonathan Shapiro, director of the Maine School Safety Center at the Maine Department of Education

“We have outstanding law enforcement in the state of Maine and we have dedicated, educational professionals and they’re all doing their best to keep your children safe.”

Statistics show 70% of adults in the U.S. are on some form of social media where many threats are made these days.

Kamorski says every threat made does need to be taken seriously, however he encourages parents to focus less on the domain and more on the threat made itself.

“The average is seven different sources of social media per adult,” he said. “That’s a lot of information coming in every day. Some of that could pertain to a local threat. Some of that could contain a threat if you’re looking for it, but most people aren’t thinking about it. So, being a little bit more situationally aware of what you’re seeing and, perhaps, responding to that in a different way.”

“What you’re seeing the schools deal with right now is understandable,” said Shapiro. “I also think that the credit needs to be given to the schools. They seem to be handling these very well.”

Shapiro adds parents should realize if the notification of a threat is not coming from school officials, they should really scrutinize what they are listening to.

Kamorski agrees.

In addition, he notes how intimidating social media can be, but it’s important to recognize parents can leverage it.

“You can teach the students, the younger generation, how to use it responsibly and use it to their advantage to help save lives and prevent these tragedies from taking place,” said Kamorski.

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