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Psychologist: Swatting incidents can elicit anxiety, fear in kids

News 12 spoke with a psychologist about the psychological effects that kids may experience during and after swatting incidents, like the ones that happened on Thursday in the Hudson Valley.

News 12 Staff

Mar 31, 2023, 12:34 AM

Updated 448 days ago

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News 12 spoke with a psychologist about the psychological effects that kids may experience during and after swatting incidents, like the ones that happened on Thursday in the Hudson Valley.
Incidents like these also take a toll on the police departments and emergency officials who respond.
Swatting is the act of making hoax phone calls to police, reporting a bomb threat, or in Thursday's case, a shooting. Such incidents will elicit a response by a swat team.
People will know it is a hoax in hindsight, but when the calls first come in, the response is quite dramatic.
"It's a major drain to resources when you start getting calls like this and you deploy, because of the situations we've seen across the country, you have to deploy significant resources to counter the potential threat. So those resources wind up getting eaten up and they aren't available for real life emergencies that might take place," says security expert Sal Lifrieri.
Although it is a hoax, the fear and anxiety it elicits is not.
"Any type of lockdown in a school means your day is interrupted, but your safety is interrupted, right? Your sense of security and your learning environment is interrupted. I think it would be really challenging for kids to reduce their anxiety and be able to immediately learn and access their parts of their brain," says Talya Cohen, a psychologist with Impact Psychology.
The consequences can be equally dramatic for the students.
"Anxiety about your safety can result in prolonged feelings of insecurity and habits that come from anxiety, right? Like difficulty falling asleep, hyper arousal, hyper alert, not being able to eat, things that come up and manifest because of a lack of feeling safety in your environment," she adds.
Cohen explains that school is already difficult for kids fraught with anxiety just from normal societal pressures.
"So put this in there too and it's really hard and scary, and when the adults in your life are equally as scared it, can be really hard to feel reassured," Cohen says.
But Cohen says there is one thing that schools can do to help limit the trauma.
"Kids need to be able to express and talk about how they feel and process and have a safe space," she adds.


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