Friday, September 29, 2023

Swatting: the threat of fake active shooter alerts


Fake reports of active shooters in more than a dozen South Carolina schools on Wednesday, October 5, disrupted instruction, caused panic among students, staff, and family members, and resulted in no charges being filed, the Associated Press reports. Law enforcement is investigating.

Charleston, S.C., where Burke H.S. was attacked by swatters earlier this month (Sean Pavone/iStockPhoto)

“[Students] came to school today, and it’s supposed to be a place where joy is supposed to reside. They came to school today with the intentions of bettering themselves academically and socially and emotionally, and then we have to deal with something like this,” the AP quoted Richland 2 School District Superintendent Baron Davis as saying.

Students were often sent home early after spending time in lockdown mode. Police have no choice but to respond, despite the terror a SWAT team driving up to a school building can cause. Callers often fake the Caller ID to make it look like the call is coming from inside the school building.

Education Week reported that dozens of schools in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Texas, and Virginia went into lockdown last month in response to false reports of an active shooter on campus.

Recent school shootings have left police, school officials, and communities on edge. The FBI calls these false alarms “swatting,” which refers to filing a false report to stoke chaos and provoke a significant law enforcement response. As a result of police and communities being on high alert, swatting attacks are aptly named.

Since no violence is usually involved, the swatting attacks don’t make national news but have a detrimental effect on school operations. Moreover, repeated false alarms can erode a school’s readiness.

  • Brief FBI report on active shooters in US schools in 2018
Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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