What should be done about a student who is widely known among students to be a bully and has recently teased another student by threatening to carry out a shooting on their campus?

Should we let the victim student decide whether he wants to report this incident, or do we report it irrespective of the victim student's decision?

  • 2
    Which country? And what do you mean by "active shooter"? Commented May 27, 2017 at 10:46
  • 7
    And yes, that sounds very much like it needs to be reported. Today's times are high-strung and you do not want to overhear a warning signal; handled discreetly, a false positive is probably better than a false negative. Commented May 27, 2017 at 10:59
  • "Active shooter" is US administratorspeak for someone who brings a gun to a school campus and starts killing people. I've edited the title and question based on my understanding of what the OP probably meant.
    – user1482
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 17:01
  • 3
    @CaptainEmacs: handled discreetly, a false positive is probably better than a false negative A threat of violence is not a false positive. The threat is a crime per se.
    – user1482
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 17:05
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – eykanal
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 1:52

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: you report this to campus safety (i.e., campus police) immediately.

Slightly longer response:

The proper way to handle this may vary from school to school. At my uni, which has unfortunately had to deal with school shootings, we are urged to report anything that even hints at such violence to the campus safety authorities (at my uni, campus police). There's a sound reason for this -- you may not know the whole picture. It's entirely possible that this student has made such threats in the past that you are unaware of, and that they've been monitored for an extended period of time. In such a case, this type of information may indicate to authorities that they need to take preventative action now. Even if they don't take action, they'll be able to document this and keep an eye out for worrisome patterns.

It's worth mentioning that there are those who would argue that this is premature -- or even a potential invasion of privacy on the part of that student -- with the thought that the student may not be showing further warning signs. This is not the right place for that discussion - if you feel that way, let's take it to the chat.

Ultimately, I would argue that you need to do what's best for the community here, not just for the victimized student. There may well be ways of protecting the victim's identity -- if so, feel free to do so -- but most administrators I've met would prioritize the safety of the community over the privacy of either the victim or the aggressor.

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    +1 Agreed. See my above comments; there may be no intention behind the statement - but it needs investigation. People should realise statements like this must be followed up on. Commented May 27, 2017 at 21:10
  • +1, unless the whole thing is obviously a joke, the statement itself is a criminal offense by most jurisdictions.
    – yo'
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 21:12

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