ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — If it seems like more school threats have been in the headlines lately, you aren’t wrong. Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark says his office has seen a rise in the number reported.

While the vast majority of threats turn out to be hoaxes, they have to be investigated and taken seriously. That amounts to lost teaching time and wasted resources.

“It seems to be happening at least once a month, every month, and recently multiple times per month,” Clark said.

During the month of March, three students were arrested in two separate school threat incidents in Anderson County Schools.

The nationwide epidemic of school threats is creating fear, anxiety and frustration for educators, students and their parents. There is no pattern to who makes the threats. Those investigated so far have been made by both male and female students between middle school and high school age.

As for what leads kids to make the threats, Clark said there are many different reasons.

“Some children have mental health problems, some have problems at home, some are just angry, but we try to find a solution that fixes that problem,” he said.

During the 2019-2020 school year 77% of public schools recorded that one or more incidents of crime had taken place, the US Department of Education said.

“We try to intervene and find out what the problem is,” Clark said.

One thing students who make threats have in common is that all will face consequences, Clark said. In Tennessee, making a threat of violence against a school and also failing to report that threat, are both crimes.

“We have had some students that have been in detention for more than a year for making these threats,” Clark said. “These threats are considered terroristic threats. They put other students, faculty, and parents and a community in fear, so it’s a serious, serious charge.”

A student who is already 18 can be tried in adult court for making the threat, which is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail.

Being charged with a crime as a juvenile is different than as an adult, but it is just as serious. A juvenile record could make military service impossible, among other things. In addition to any punishment handed down, there are court costs, service fees and even community hours to consider.

A juvenile record is confidential, meaning the general public does not have access to the records. But the record can still follow a person as they grow up.

“The juvenile record, or some offense that they commit as a juvenile, can aggravate what happens to them as they progress through their juvenile years,” Clark said.

Clark added his office and authorities have held several assemblies on threats in schools in the hope that education leads to better decision-making.