FBI, Michigan police investigate swatting at multiple schools across the state
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) - Tuesday morning, police across Michigan responded to several schools where an unknown caller claimed to be a teacher and reported that a student had shot another student. But it was all revealed to be a hoax.
The threats were made against several schools including cities in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Jackson, Okemos, and Portage. The schools all went into lockdown as police investigated and each time, no weapons were found and nobody was hurt.
Fortunately none of it was true but it still creates real life panic and anxiety for students, teachers, and parents. And anyone caught making the threats could get 20 years in prison - or more.
Clinical therapist Dominc Landini said 'Swatting' is dangerous but believes there's a reason we're seeing an increase.
"We’re misusing emergency response units in a way that is very dangerous," Landini said. "At the end of the day…reacting on the Internet is way easier to do. We don’t have to face the person we’re in conflict with. We don’t have to come up with a solution, cope with our emotions, I can make this phone call and feel validated."
He said people who commit swatting typically find it as a solution to dealing with certain emotions.
"Strong emotions, like anger, frustration, or sadness," he said. "And if I had a conflict with someone at school and I saw swatting online maybe that’s an outlet for me maybe I can get revenge."
Landini said the first step with someone who has engaged in swatting is to start with questions.
"Trying to find out why they felt they needed to do this and then start problem-solving that event and look at what skills they may need to be successful," he said.
Legal consequences can include prison time and Landini urges parents to make sure their kids know what could happen if they do such an act.
"Provide education on how to get more involved with the communication, how to effectively reinforce some of the behaviors that they want to see and the coping skills that they want to see within the home," he said.