Megan Hayes | News Editor
Please be aware that this article speaks about sensitive topics relating to death by gun violence.
When a heartbreaking event happens, like the Nashville, Tennessee school shooting just this past Monday, there are always a handful of schools which get struck with “non-credible” threats of violence. A “credible” threat is defined as a “verbal or nonverbal threat… which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family members,” (LawInsider), so a “non-credible” threat is a verbal or non-verbal intent to harm that has been confirmed to be a hoax, or discredited because it is not rational for the person making the threat to do so. Many times, when schools are presented with a threat, precautions are taken to hopefully prevent harm to students and staff. It is a very nerve wracking experience for everyone involved, and serves no other purpose than to spread fear and misinformation. Although there is no morally sound and logical explanation for fake school shootings or bomb threats, it still continues to happen. If we look back to the Uvalde, Texas school shooting from last year, we can see this idea in action, as over the next week after the shooting, upwards of 30 hoax-shooter threats were reported from schools across the nation.
The United States has been hit especially hard by these hoaxes, and it has become a nationwide issue that can affect any location, but has been most centered towards high schools. We can look back at September of last year, when Windham High School across from Eastern was put on a full lockdown due to a false shooter drill, and in turn ECSU was put under a shelter-in-place order. Just this week, again on Wednesday, March 29th, E.O. Smith High School in Mansfield, Connecticut adjacent to the UCONN campus was evacuated due to a non-credible threat. Numbers continue to crawl up each year, as gun violence has become a grim epidemic for America to face – 133 mass shootings having been reported already in 2023. Shootings plague many Americans' thoughts, and are on the top of the heads of many when going into a public space, especially with children and young adults when going to school.
The concept of mass shootings being a commonplace for anyone, and especially for children, is disgusting, but is still disregarded as a valid issue. Still, threats continue to linger in and throw schools into panic, locking down or evacuating their students and sometimes causing mass hysteria. This is so common that it now has a term: “swatting”. Swatting is defined as “the action of making a false report of a serious emergency so that a SWAT team (a group of officers trained to deal with dangerous situations) will go to a person's home [or location], by someone who wants to frighten, upset, or cause problems for that person,” (Cambridge.org). Swatting is now being used in group settings, like campuses or businesses, and in some cases leads to wrongful death of innocent parties, like the fatal shooting of 28-year-old Kansas resident Andrew Finch on his doorstep. In the best case scenario where force is not required and there is no active threat, schools are having to offer students mental health counseling for the immense amount of fear and panic students have when preparing for the worst or trying to get in touch with their families for what they believe may be the last time.
| "If you see something, say something."
This horrid reality continues, as there has been no deceleration of gun violence or these non-credible threats which fluster schools. Whether it is an act for attention, a case of poor morals, or simply a mistake, there is no logical reasoning for launching hoax-threats on schools, especially in the wake of legitimate school shootings happening. U.S. law officials have started charging individuals who launch the threats with intent to harm a school or terrorism, which can land the origin of the threat in jail and permanently affect the rest of their life. Children making these threats are being charged as adults as well, as this is not something to be taken lightly, and sometimes that point is not clearly understood prior to the threat being made. As a conclusion, threatening violence to schools will never make sense, and it is our job as students, teachers, parents, staff and morally-sound people to speak up when you see something suspicious, and advocate for change to keep children and young adults safe in places where they should only have to worry about learning.