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Cyber threats strain central Indiana police, put students on edge

PLAINFIELD (WISH) — Authorities are investigating new cyber threats from over the weekend targeting several schools in central Indiana.

Police said they take every threat seriously. Several schools have been targeted since December, including Danville and Plainfield high schools. Police have not made any arrests in the Plainfield case.

Experts believe the threats have generated a lot of copycat behavior, and it’s taking a toll on the agencies involved.

The Avon Police Department posted an update to its Facebook page after receiving word about the latest round of cyber threats.

The department said in part, “While these threats have placed a strain on our staffing and budget, the safety of our schools is our priority.”

“Unfortunately so much of it is copycat behavior, but it does seem to be a nationwide trend that cyber threats are increasing for schools,” said Indiana Chapter of National School Public Relations Association Executive Director Donna Petriats,

Her group provides networking opportunities, workshops and help with professional development.

“We just sent out a tip sheet to all of our member schools right after the whole Plainfield incident to say this is what you need to do this is the steps and the process that you go through,” said Petriats.

The cyber threats forced the Plainfield school district to cancel classes right before winter break.

Teachers had to reschedule exams, and students returned to school to heavy police presence and new security measures.

“Whoever these people are that are perpetuating these threats are neither amusing nor heroic in their efforts,” said Petraits. “I think they do not appreciate the degree to which they disrupt and all the anxiety it’s produce for students.”

The threats have left many Plainfield parents worried about sending their kids to school. The district addressed some of those concerns at a community forum in January.

Petraits said it’s important for parents to trust their schools moving forward.

“Every school district that I ever worked with their primary responsibility and concerns is keeping those kids and the staff safe, so you have to trust that your school district has that intention in mind and they will tell you as much as they can tell you,” said Petraits.

Police are asking parents not to re-share or re-post any of the cyber threats. If you come across something online you’re asked to call police. Plainfield police also started a tip line to help.

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