Authorities struggle to stop a wave of school threats

Experts say juveniles are unlikely to face time behind bars for threatening violence to schools. However, they could be hit with other penalties.

Schools across the country have been slammed by a wave of threats of violence since the massacre at the high school in Parkland, Florida.

There have been dozens of threats in Prince George's County alone.

Young people can face suspension, expulsion, and even criminal charges if they're caught threatening their school. But because most of the people threatening schools are juveniles, it's pretty unlikely they'll face serious jail time.

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In the Washington region, there have been numerous threats. In Prince George's County, a 15-year-old allegedly posted pictures of guns, and pledged to start shooting. He's now charged with making threats of mass violence. In Fairfax County, an 18 year old is charged with threatening a school. Police say they found 200 rounds of ammunition in his home.

Schools, police, parents and prosecutors are all desperate to head off the wave of threats that are disrupting schools and terrifying students. "We will be vigorously prosecuting these cases," Prince George's Police Chief Hank Stawinski said on Twitter.

But prosecutors say the reality is, judges may be reluctant to put young people behind bars. "The juvenile justice system is a restorative justice system. And it's more focused on rehab and treatment," said John Erzen, communications director for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office.

Five years ago, Alexander Song threatened to shoot up the University and kill enough people to "make national news." He was an adult, but never went to prison. Maryland law at the time only allowed prosecutors to charge him with disturbing activities at a school and misusing the telephone.

Prince George's State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks helped re-write the law. The penalty for adults is now as much as ten years in prison.

Experts say even for kids, there are consequences. "Kids need to realize you can't put the threat back in the smart phone once you hit send. All threats are treated seriously," said Kenneth Trump, president of the National School Safety and Services group.

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Trump says judges have been hitting parents in these kinds of cases, forcing them to pay restitution for the cost of disrupting the school, and for the police investigation that led to their child.

Legal experts say the penalties for making threats vary widely by jurisdiction.