WTVM Editorial 12/08/22: School Shooting Hoaxes

Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 9:06 AM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - In schools across Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia there have been multiple cases of what authorities call “swatting,” calling police with an active shooter warning that turns out to be a hoax.

In the past several weeks there have been a dozen such hoaxes in Georgia school districts, most recently in Savannah and Valdosta.

An active shooter anywhere, but especially at a school, sends students, teachers, parents, and administrators into panic mode…and that’s just what the hoaxers want.

Fear is a powerful tool, and no authority can afford to downplay any call about a shooter - in case this time, the threat turns out to be real.

So what’s happening here?

Most obviously, active shooter hoaxes are often driven by social media. That behavior becomes a contagion, with copycats and fame-seekers eager to spread terror in a most effective way. That’s why parents must understand what their kids are saying and talking about on social media.

The best way is to actually look at your child’s phone together. Make sure they understand it’s for the sake of their safety.

Meanwhile, authorities need to find the hoaxers and make sure they face severe penalties.

Young people need to see how their life can be ruined by charges of making terroristic threats.

Kids inclined to commit a hoax need to think twice. They must be tried as adults and pay a real price, including jail time and owning a police record that will cast a shadow on their future.

The only good thing about a school shooter hoax is that it turns out to be a hoax.

But that should never diminish the seriousness of the crime or the consequences for such dangerous and illegal behavior.