'You can't learn when you're in terror': Hoax shooting threats are traumatizing kids

As the number of school shootings rises in America, most recently at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, the amount of hoax threats has skyrocketed too – and they're traumatizing students.

"Although there are no casualties or injuries in such incidents, the psychological impacts on children can be immense," reported Axios.

"'Swatting' is the act of placing a fake emergency call to 911, who often dispatch SWAT teams to potentially violent situations. While the FBI has not shared data about the number of swatting incidents, the agency said in an emailed statement that they're 'aware of the continued threats being made.'"

Since September, 42 of these incidents have been reported, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers. In many cases, the emergency calls are computer generated, allowing the threats to be spread more efficiently — and sometimes they involve "foreign actors" trying to destabilize the country, said Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY).

President Joe Biden signed a historic bipartisan gun reform bill last year — the first such measure in three decades — which among other things closes loopholes in the federal background check system and incentivizes states to develop "red flag" laws temporarily confiscating guns from people showing signs of violent behavior. He followed up this year with an executive order expanding background check requirements to more firearm sellers.

However, fully universal background checks or a ban on military-style semiautomatic rifles would require an additional act of Congress, which appears impossible for the time being. And even this would do little to stem the tide of fake gun threats targeting schools.

"'I think whether there's a real shooting or pretend shooting, it's terrifying and people don't feel safe,' said Dr. Adelaide Robb, chief of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Children's National Hospital in D.C.

"The mental health impacts on students can go either of two ways. The kids who aren't that scared and who stopped paying attention to any threats may start to ignore things from their own peer group on the Internet. Then if there's a real threat, they may discount it because there have been so many false alarms.

"There's another group of kids who may be more anxious to begin with, who become more and more fearful. And for some of those children then, it doesn't feel safe to go to school anymore.'"

She continued: "You can't learn when you're in terror. If you can't go into school and sit down in the classroom, and listen and learn because you're too scared somebody's going to come in with a gun, it makes the entire progress of your life difficult."