In an update to the media on Monday, Canandaigua Police Chief Stephen Hedworth gave the latest information on an incident that took place over the weekend.
On April 8th the City of Canandaigua Police Department received information from the Canandaigua School District regarding a threat made via social media, and the threat was directed towards the school.
The Canandaigua Police Department then launched an immediate investigation into the incident, and within several hours into the investigation the individuals involved were identified.
The situation has since been resolved, according to police. The identities of the individuals involved is not being released due to age, and no further details regarding the individuals will be released. The matter has been referred to family court for disposition, according to Hedworth.
The City of Canandaigua Police Department has worked with the Canandaigua School District to take steps that would ensure the safety of students and faculty members.
The Canandaigua Police Department had additional officers present at each of the schools on Monday, April 10th, to help ease the minds of students, parents, employees and faculty members who might have still felt uneasy about the incident.
The Canandaigua Police Department commended the leadership of the Canandaigua City School District for their diligent efforts towards ensuring the security and safety of their students and faculty, and for promptly bringing this matter to our attention.
In a statement Hedworth said:
“In today’s current times, we encourage everyone to report any suspicious activity or inappropriate behavior they might see, not only on Social Media, but during the course of their daily routine. We also encourage every parent to have a conversation with their child/children about the impact of social media, and the appropriateness of what is spoken and posted through social media. Reminding the youth of today that the words we speak, and the actions we take, can have very serious consequences. The Canandaigua Police Department would like to remind everyone that maintaining the safety of our families, schools and the entire community is a collaborative effort so please, ‘If you see something, say something’.”
Two Canandaigua students were involved with a social media posting that was reported on Saturday. While specifics of the Snapchat were not made immediately available — the school district called it “a threat to the school.”
Both individuals were under the age of 16, according to Canandaigua Police Chief Stephen Hedworth. On Friday, the school was on lock down for more than an hour.
However, Hedworth said the two incidents were not related.
There was a boosted police presence on Monday at schools, according to the district, which was highlighted in a message to parents:
“On Saturday, April 8th, the Canandaigua City School District became aware of an inappropriate SnapChat social media entry posted by a student. This information was immediately turned over to the Canandaigua City Police Department for investigation. By Saturday night, the situation had been resolved and dealt with by the police department.
Superintendent of Schools Lynne Erdle has taken steps to ensure that the parties involved will not be on school property. However, to further ensure appropriate safety and security, extra police officers will be at all Canandaigua school buildings.
A police department investigator will address all Canandaigua secondary students (grades 6-12) on the topic of social media in short assemblies this week.
Any questions about this situation are to be directed to the Canandaigua City Police Department or school building principals.”
“It’s just to ease people’s minds,” Hedworth told the Canandaigua Messenger. He said the message police and school officials want to convey is that social media must be used responsibly and “to think about how words and actions can impact other people.”
An updated message, which was promised to be shared via video by officials at the school said the following:
“As many of you know, the district was involved in two situations over the past few days, each calling for Canandaigua city police involvement. Both situations dealt with posts on social media that were alarming and that focused on the school district. In both cases, we immediately contacted the city police department and worked cooperatively with them to reach resolutions which affirmed a safe school environment for our students and staff.
I will tell you that as a school district we do everything we can to make our environment safe. Despite contrary belief, we follow our safety protocol in each and every situation. We will never compromise on that safety. If I felt that your children, our students, were not safe to come to school, I would have canceled school. No doubt, no questions asked. You do have my promise on that.
The most important thing that you must understand, and praise, about these two incidents was the fact that someone knew what they saw was not appropriate and brought that information to a trusted adult.
I am asking you to become that trusted adult for your children. Let them know that you will not be mad, you will not judge, you will not hold a grudge when they bring you controversial information. Open up the lines of communication with them – talk about everything, talk about nothing – just talk. Yes, they often think you are prying, but you are the parent or guardian and it is your job to know what is happening for your child in school, at home and now, to make things more complex, on social media. It is okay to take a look at your child’s Facebook, snapchat, Instagram or twitter account. If you don’t know how to use one of them please just ask your child to show you – another teachable moment. Only this time your child is teaching you, which is not only good for communication, it’s fun for both of you.
We cannot continue to blame social media for our issues when we are doing nothing to learn more about social media as the adults. Bottom line – I am asking you to be in your child’s business. And then, let us know if there is something that is unsettling to you and we will assist you in deciding the next steps. You can be certain that we will respect confidentiality while doing everything necessary to keep our schools safe.
Unfortunately we realize that what often starts social media posts or what comes as the aftermath is difficulty between students. Feelings get hurt, someone tries to dominate and push a peer around, some cases result in bullying. The school has been criticized that we don’t take bullying seriously. Nothing is further from the truth!
However, we have to know when each situation begins, if we are to intercede. When we don’t know, it appears we don’t care. That is definitely not the case – we just cannot know everything. Call your child’s teacher, the counselor, the assistant principal or principal. Inform us. That will be the first step in working together.
And lastly, we often offer evening informational sessions that are geared towards you, our parents. We want to arm you with all of the information possible to be an effective parent in today’s times. Just last week, we offered a session Safe Lives Start at Home and while we had a nice crowd we sure had room for plenty more. I know you are busy, we all are, but come to these sessions. Hear what others are experiencing, learn from the experts. I am certain you will find value.
Yes, today’s topics aren’t light but they are critically important. We need to work together to provide the very best educational environment for your children, our students.”
This story is still developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.