HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A Huntsville psychologist says the uptick in threats of violence in North Alabama schools could be sparked by a school shooting in Michigan last week that left four students dead.
Since the beginning of December, there have been at least four credible threats of extreme violence in schools across North Alabama. Three of those threats involved guns. The other was a bomb threat.
Madison County resident Billy Cambron says his son, an 8th grader at Madison County Elementary/Middle School in Gurley, is suffering from panic attacks after being bullied. He also says a student threatened to bring a gun to school.
“My kid shouldn’t have to suffer from another kid bullying him,” Cambron said. “There were threats made at a basketball game that some kid was going to bring a pistol to school. We kept our kid out.”
Madison County School officials confirmed that they were aware of the threat and that law enforcement was interviewing people involved.
But this is just one of several threats of violence made in eight days.
On Dec. 1, Limestone County School officials were made aware that a student at Ardmore High School was trying to obtain a gun so they could kill another student. That student was charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
WHNT-TV spoke to a parent who says her daughter was the target of that murder threat. She spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“Thank you to everyone that had a part in coming forward about the threat. Thank you to the staff and to Officer Baker for digging a little deeper into this matter and for turning it over to the investigator. Without everyone coming together, I possibly could have lost my daughter that day. I also want to clarify a few things about the gun. The authorities and the school administration said the suspect had no gun that morning, so that’s what I have to go by, even I’ve heard that a few students saw the gun. Everyone knows how kids are, some just like to keep things stirred up. I also would like to say I hope the suspect gets the help he needs and that his family is well through this hard time. Again, thank you for everything y’all have done and for keeping my daughter safe.”– Ardmore High School parent
On Dec. 7, officials in Colbert County charged a student after a bomb threat was found written on the wall in the boy’s bathroom.
On Wednesday, parents of students in Hazel Green High School received a call about a possible gun threat at the school. Many parents opted to keep their children home.
Huntsville psychologist Dr. Patrick Quirk says while it’s impossible to know each individual student’s motives, there are often increases in threats following school shootings.
“As patterns like this evolve, then you begin to get copycatting,” Quirk said. “They get an idea of ‘oh we can do this’ when in fact it may not have occurred to somebody if it hadn’t been something that was already happening.”
Quirk said the best thing parents can do is talk to their children. He says that even though sometimes kids may push their parents away, it’s important to know what’s going on in their lives.
If your child seems to be withdrawn from social activities, Quirk says it may be a good time to involve a professional counselor. But, he says the child must also be invested in getting help.
For emergency mental health resources, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.