Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:54 PM EDT2014-04-17 02:54:16 GMT
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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The days after the tragic school shooting in Connecticut have brought panic to parents and hysteria to social media. It can be difficult to weed through fact and fiction when it comes to safety at your children's schools.
Jefferson County Public Schools spokesman Ben Jackey tells WDRB News, "The threat was someone was going to bring a weapon to school and harm students...we ask that parents put faith in the police force and the personnel at the school to keep their students safe and allow them to be in the classroom and learn."
Despite this safety assurance, a significant police presence, and highly trained K-9's at PRP High School, Holly Zeits and a number of other parents pulled their kids out of class Tuesday morning: "The threats were made on Twitter, and it was a local gang that comes to the school."
That school was not alone. WDRB has learned of fake bomb threats at Fern Creek High School and in Meade County, as well. In Indiana, Clarksville and Jeffersonville high schools are said to be the site of mass shooting violence on Friday.
Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer said Tuesday, "Even though we feel there is no substantial threat, we're patrolling the lot on rotation and going in and out of the schools. The fear of the threat is the biggest adversary we have right now."
People are capitalizing on the vulnerability of the nation in the days after the Connecticut massacre. Palmer says, "The parents are scared, the students are scared."
Social media is driving that fear. "We see people who are influences on social media put things out that could be rumor that are just spreading like wildfire," says Sheryl Connelly, who owns a company that does social listening. She can track what people are posting about online.
She says similar stories are playing out in New York, Charlotte and even Utah: "What would be the message for parents out of this? Stay calm, wait to hear officially from the school, don't take what you hear from social media as gospel. Wait until you hear it form a credible source."
Meanwhile, police agencies look for the source or sources behind the hysteria, with a message for whoever it may be. Palmer reminds us, "It is a federal crime to make a threat of this nature."