Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra was evacuated Friday morning because of an unspecified threat against the school.
Alhambra police investigated while students and staff waited outside. A few hours later, the lockdown was lifted and the school was deemed safe.
But even a false alarm can impact students, and threats are happening more often. The FBI says 6,000 school threats were reported nationwide in 2022, marking a 60% increase from the previous year.
School threats are defined as written or verbal threats to attack students and are typically posted on social media.
"There's been a proliferation of social media and it's been much easier to act anonymously and make these threats against the schools without any need for any kind of physical activity," said Paul Vernon, a retired LAPD captain.
The FBI says the threats are reported by students, parents, school administrators or local law enforcement. Although most of the threats don't materialize, ABC7 asked child psychiatrist Mitali Wadekar what effect these threats are having on children.
"It's supposed to be a safe place to grow and learn and now all of the sudden, a threat can lead to a lockdown of an entire school and it creates a lot of panic and fear and fear of their lives, their friends, can be this life threatening place to be," said Wadekar, who works at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital.
Wadekar said it's really important that parents have ongoing discussions with their children to create a safe and open space for communications and trauma effects kids in different ways. Children are resilient, but some may suppress their feelings of fear which can be harmful to their health and well being.
"If you notice any signs of decreased appetite, impaired sleep patterns, lack of motivation, irritability, crying, sadness, any of those symptoms. bring it up to a therapist or a school counselor," said Wadekar.