Following a series of “creepy clown” social media threats throughout B.C., School District No. 91 (Nechako Lakes) took precautions to keep Halloween safe this year.
“Given the sensitivity at this time, students and staff are asked not to wear clown costumes to any school functions,” said Charlene Seguin, superintendent of schools for School District No. 91, last week. “I would also recommend that parents avoid clown costumes for even their littlest children on Halloween night.”
On Oct. 7, 2016, Fort St. James schools were threatened through a social media “creepy clown” post, which resulted in a ‘secure and hold’ procedure at both David Hoy Elementary and Fort St. James Secondary. This means that external school doors were locked and monitored while children remained inside the schools all day, and police presence was deployed to conduct patrols of the schools.
“The school district worked in conjunction with the RCMP to ensure that student and staff safety were a priority,” said Seguin.
Clown-related threats seen throughout North America are typically referencing kidnapping or targeting schools with threats of violence.
According to Theresa Campbell with the B.C. Ministry of Education’s student wellness and safety division, the majority of these threats are appearing throughout social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
Although no violence has been reported at this time, Campbell said students and parents should take this matter seriously. She said many people see this as a prank, and not as criminal behaviour.
“It is imperative that you talk to your children about reporting these threats if they see them on social media and bring them to the attention of school officials and/or law enforcement,” said Campbell. “It is also important to make students aware that if they engage in, or participate in any way, in this type of threat-related behaviour, they will be facing discipline and/or criminal charges.”
Since Oct. 7, no other threats have been reported in School District No. 91. School district staff and RCMP detachments continually monitor for potential school threats of any nature. In addition, all school districts in B.C. have received training in assessing and responding to threat-related behaviour.
“Principals would immediately employ our threat/risk assessment protocols should there be an incident,” said Seguin.