Perverse Incentives

Shortly after the school shooting in Florida, a threat was made against a school in Orono, Minnesota. After that threat was made, a GoFundMe campaign was established for the family of the child who issued the threat and managed to raise $31,000:

An online fundraising campaign has raised more than $31,000 for the family of the boy who posted threats on social media last week that triggered the lockdown at Orono public schools.

The GoFundMe page was started with the blessing of the boy’s family on Saturday. The boy, who has autism, was arrested Wednesday at school and is being held at the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Facility.


According to the post, the boy “is deeply broken, and the situation is dire. He is despondent, and his special needs condition prevents him from coping with his detention. He is in an immediate health crisis and needs legal representation to navigate through his circumstances and get him the care and treatment that he desperately needs.”

If you read the GoFundMe description, it appears that the boy has been diagnosed with autism but the description doesn’t indicate where on the spectrum the boy falls. However, raising $31,000 for a child who called in a threat to a school is what is called a perverse incentive. Other parents of children with autism looking for a cash payout of tens of thousands of dollars may decide to encourage their child to issue a threat to their school. And, unfortunately, there are parents who care less for their child’s welfare than money and would be willing to pull a stunt like this.