Make a school threat, face the consequences: What is the punishment?

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Think before you post.

It's a reminder that there are very real consequences students face for making terroristic threats, even if it's meant to be a hoax.

Thursday, we brought you the story about an increase in reported numbers of these types of threats. What repercussions do these students face?

Terroristic threatening in the second degree can mean conspiracy to commit crimes of murder or criminal mischief, or knowingly making a false report. It's a class C felony, which means not only do these students face disciplinary action from school, but also face consequences from the law.

"We take these threats extremely seriously because usually the kids are threatening some kind of gun violence or calling in a bomb threat, or something where we have to make absolutely sure that the public is going to be safe," said Juvenile Probation Regional Manager, Lee Post.

At school, students face a wide range of consequences up to expulsion.

"We continue to give access to education, but students will be expelled from the school they're in, they won't be with their peers," said Anchorage School District Superintendent, Dr. Deena Bishop. "There is counseling that's needed, there is a forensic assessment before they come back. We take it seriously that our schools are safe."

In the face of the law here in Anchorage, if a child is arrested, they are are taken to the McLaughlin Youth Center where they're placed in the detention unit and a decision is made whether they will go to court within 48 hours or another alternative route.

"We're looking at whether or not they will be returned home, what kind of services can be put in place quickly, and in the long term, they're looking at supervision by juvenile probation - whether that's in the community on an informal basis, or formal supervision by a probation officer, where they're checking in, where they have obligations to the court where they risk further arrest," said Post.

For adults, a conviction in terroristic threatening in the second degree could result in up to five years in prison, and $50,000 fine, but for juveniles, it's not so clean cut.

"In the juvenile system there's not determinate sentencing, and so youth aren't sentenced to a specific amount of jail time for making a threat," said Post, "But terroristic threatening now is a felony, so they risk having a felony on their record, which has repercussions. They also risk being on probation. For very, very serious cases, they risk being institutionalized within our system."

These are all consequences that a child may not even realize or, think about beforehand.

"We really encourage our kids to be curious, we encourage them to try new things, we encourage risk taking - safe risk taking," said Bishop. "All of those things together with a child that doesn't have a fully developed brain - you know the frontal lobe isn't fully developed until the twenties, they're not thinking through."

Regardless, the Alaska Division of Juvenile justice works closely with the police department, the school, and parents to determine an individualized plan of action, which sometimes includes counseling, or rehab.

"We also recognize some of theses kids are going through mental health crisis," said Post. "They're going through juvenile development, and there are also other people out there who can offer them help. If they're angry, if they need help, if they need support, there's any number of people in their schools, in their community that they can reach out to, that they can express themselves in different ways, that's not having a negative impact on themselves long term, that's not causing fear in the people they care about."

In addition to education about the negative consequences that is being introduced to kids in schools, they're also learning more about the positive outcomes of reporting suspicious behavior, which could be a contributing factor in the increase of the number of these types of threats.

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