After two school-related social media hoaxes in less than two weeks, School District 57's superintendent is hoping that the shock effect of such incidents will soon be replaced by annoyance on the part of students.
"We want to establish a climate within our high schools where students just think this is nonsense behaviour you shouldn't be doing, it's frowned on," said superintendent of schools Marilyn Marquis-Forster.
"I think, if you think way back, when 911 came in - there was the whole business of teaching children not to abuse it, or how bad it was if you tricked [people]. In some ways, this is a little bit the same."
After a social media threat directed at DP Todd was reported to RCMP, a youth was briefly taken into custody on Tuesday. Parents were informed of the threat in a letter penned by DP Todd principal Faith Mackay. The student has currently not been charged by police, and the posting was deemed not to be a threat to the public.
This incident followed the arrest of another youth suspected of posting threatening images on Instagram on March 29. The Instagram account contained two stock images of firearms, which were pulled from the internet according to Prince George RCMP superintendent Craig Douglass. The account bore the message "they are gonna [expletive] pay for what they did." The youth has been charged charged with uttering threats.
Marquis-Forster stressed that school staff took Tuesday's social media threats seriously. Parents and students alerted DP Todd administrators, who then conducted a risk threat assessment according to District policy. The RCMP were contacted, who determined within two hours that there was no danger to the public. There was no interruption of the school-day.
"We are very, very proud of our students and families and staff for stepping to the plate and reporting worrisome behaviour because in the grand scheme of the world in which we live, having everybody on the lookout for worrisome behaviour - and reporting it to the appropriate people - is our best defence," Marquis-Forster said.
"Maybe it wasn't something we were teaching kids ten years ago, but it absolutely is something we're teaching them as part of digital citizenship, part of safe schools."
Marquis-Forster said Tuesday's incident did not involve a student who was enrolled at DP Todd Secondary. The incident did not appear to be related to bullying.
"We haven't had a rash of needing to cope with bullying situations at DP Todd," she said.
"It's not been something that is coming to this office."
After the March 29th incident, school administrators had been warned to expect "copycat" online behaviour by police. Marquis-Forster said another similar incident had occurred after the Easter weekend, but was not deemed to be a credible threat by the RCMP.
"It's been quite an Easter and following week," she said.