As Triad schools face dangerous incidents on and around their campuses, officials said rumors spread on social media were not helping to keep students safe.
GREENSBORO, NC – Law enforcement officials and Triad schools say rumors spreading on social media about alleged incidents at school can create problems when trying to protect students.
Social media posts on Friday claimed that a student at Western Alamance High School was stabbed. However, officials from the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office said two students were fighting and one of them cut his hand on wiring.
“It can create a lot of chaos and a lot of fear,” said Michelle Mills, director of communications for the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, “which is really based on misinformation or incomplete information.”
Mills said people should make sure they get their information from official sources, not just friends on social media.
“We don’t want to continue to perpetuate disinformation so we always encourage them to get the information in an official capacity,” Mills said.
Guilford County Schools are also dealing with rumors spreading on social media related to school safety. Mike Richey, director of emergency management for GCS, said if you see something on social media, talk to someone you trust (i.e. teacher, administration, law enforcement ) and do not share information that is not confirmed by an official source.
“Think about when you hear it, how you feel like a person when you have this worry,” Richey said. “So solve this problem quickly rather than spreading that same sentiment to your friends, family and classmates.”
Richey said if rumors keep spreading on social media, it’s just harder to find real information.
“So what they do is they flaunt us very thin,” Richey said, “because all of a sudden we’re chasing our tail, so to speak, and what happens is is so, i have to search deep five people to find the original post, it took me all this time to find these five people, talk to them, have a conversation with them and understand where it really came from.
But Richey says if people go to a trusted source first, it can save time and potentially protect students, staff, and others.
“The sooner we can get there, the safer our school, the safer our children will be,” said Richey, “and just as importantly, the safer they will feel so they can spend the day learning, rather than wasting their energy on rumors of negative activity.
If you see disturbing information on social media regarding school safety, Mills said contacting law enforcement.
“It really helps us understand what information is being released to the public and what information we can in turn share,” Mills said. “So when we are dealing with an event or something that has happened, it is very helpful for residents to call and let us know what information is going out, what questions do they have so that we can answer them. directly and send information to the whole community.
Although Richey says that if parents don’t tell a trusted source first and just keep sharing the wrong information, it’s no longer helpful.
“When a parent contacts us, it helps us because we know,” Richey said. “But if they only contact their friends and all of a sudden 10 people contact us, it’s almost impossible to take every one of those calls, and again, know where to start in the whole investigation to see if it’s true or if it’s just a mild conversation gone awry.
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