Cedar Rapids parents react to threatening social media posts

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 6:12 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - After school was cancelled because of several threats to students’ safety, many parents in the CRCSD were frustrated with the lack of information from district officials through most of the day on Monday. With various social media posts circulating among themselves and their students, they didn’t know for sure which school is being threatened.

An audio message of a robotic voice claiming their plan to “shoot up the school” made its way around. One Cedar Rapids parent heard it hours before the district decided to cancel school on Monday. Immediately, she was concerned for her children’s safety.

“I was like, whoa. I didn’t know what to do, I was nervous, and basically I was just hoping school was cancelled, and I was like, ‘I don’t think I want to send you guys to school,” said Jennifer Gjoundla.

With 3 children, all under the age of 17, she saw how fast many other social media posts about potential threats were circulating.

Another parent, Amanda Sparks, saw a list of potential ‘victims’ with her daughter’s name on it.

“I realized that it actually was a list of kids that were targeted specifically, so initially I was just shocked and then fear after that in the fact that no one knew who this person was and had no information was the scariest part,” said Sparks.

Many parents in the district spent part of Monday relying on social media to get more information as they waited for further updates from the district.

In cases like this, experts say it’s more of an advantage to have access to social media at a younger age in order to stay updated. But there are still some negatives.

“I think it does instill a level of fear, which then impacts our level of anxiety and our daily functioning. And so finding a really healthy balance of that is important,” said Tanager Place School, Based Supervisor Tawny Schafbuch.

In a statement released on Monday evening, the district said this is an opportune time for parents to talk to their students and emphasize how threats like these have severe consequences, regardless of intent.