Resources available for parents and teens to avert crisis situations like Utah high school attack plot

While everyone is safe after a teen's plot to attack Weber High School was stopped, one expert says the incident shows why parents and teens need to know the resources available. (Mike Anderson, KSL-TV)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

PLEASANT VIEW — Detectives are still investigating a teen's plot to carry out an attack at Weber High School. Weber county deputies say there's no reason to be concerned at this point. Everyone is safe.

One expert tells KSL-TV this ordeal highlights the need for parents to talk to their teens about the resources available to them.

Authorities say the potential threat came to light because someone came forward and reported some concerning social media posts to the FBI.

The concerns came from what witnesses say they saw on a teen's Instagram account: plans to gather guns and make napalm in preparation for an attack on Weber High School, in 2024.

"We really don't know what's going on in peoples' heads," SafeUT supervisor Denia-Marie Ollertson said. "I think we have good guesses that a lot of our teens are struggling with mental health issues, with anxiety."

Ollertson says cases like this are a big reason why the Safe UT app was created in 2015.

It gives people instant access to a licensed counselor.

"We have the chat function, where people can talk about 'Hey, I'm struggling, I need some help,'" Ollertson said.

And there's the tip feature, where anyone can send in something that doesn't seem right — even if they're not sure.

"We never get people in trouble for just acting on good faith information," Ollertson said. "Even if you're not 100% sure, if you think this is something of concern we want you to send it in."

What could have happened at Weber High School is frightening. Tips over the teen's Instagram account were turned into the FBI.

When Weber County deputies investigated, they say they found a diary outlining the girl's thoughts on potential co-conspirators, and wanting to acquire guns, alcohol and bombs.

And while all of this may shed light on an extreme case, Ollertson says parents need to show teens that they can talk to them about tough subjects.

"There's so much going on in a teen's life and a teen's world," she said. "The more effective approach is just to have a regular check-in of open-ended questions so that the teen knows you are someone they can talk to and turn to when they're ready for it."

As far as we know, the Safe UT app was not used in this case, but Ollertson says information sent through it goes directly to a counselor and on to the school.

She says in 2020 alone they had close to 300 life-saving interventions that came through the app.

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