Students making threats against schools on social media face serious consequences, law expert says

'Trying to retract it with a "just kidding" isn't going to save you,' she says

SAN ANTONIO – Making a threat against a school or district comes with serious consequences for the juvenile behind the threat and their parents.

St. Mary’s University clinical professor of law Stephanie Stevens said students can face expulsion and jail time.

“Maybe they didn’t mean it, they weren’t sincere about it, but in the long run that may not help them get out of trouble,” she said.

Youths between the ages 10 and 16 would be punished through the juvenile court system. Those 17 and older would be processed through the adult system.

Stevens said students face expulsion from school, prison or jail time and having it go on their criminal record.

“Most of the charges that would involve a threat would be in the level of a felony,” she said.

Incidents such as the Florida high school shooting bring out a lot of copycats, and across Texas, districts are reporting high number of threats, many deemed to be fake.

“The best policing the school does is to try and monitor social media sites of children and stay on top of threats before they become actual harm,” Stevens said.

Stevens said parents need to have a conversation with their children about what goes on their social media accounts and what they say online. 

“Saying something dangerous and trying to retract it with a ‘just kidding’ isn’t going to save you from getting into trouble,” she said.

Stevens says communities should be vigilant.

“The absence of a threat doesn’t mean we're safe, just as the presence of a threat doesn’t mean there's a danger,” she said.

Calls of concern at local school districts (These are calls for tips received about a possible threat or something someone says on social media that officials were concerned about):

  • North East ISD: 5

  • San Antonio ISD: 8

Fake threats (These are calls that turned out to be hoaxes):

  • Edgewood ISD: 2

  • New Braunfels ISD: 1

  • Northside ISD: 2

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