WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A string of false threats to schools happened across the state earlier Monday, raising concerns to the public. A school in Westfield was under lockdown Monday because of a hoax threat.
It’s nothing new for this community that experienced a similar incident this past summer,
and now there are worries about how this is impacting the students and teachers. “We are mandated to do these lockdown drills, these shelter-in-place in case of these events, children are super traumatized by this,” said Toni Doherty of Northampton.
Police are investigating after threats were made to several schools across the state. Schools in Amesbury, Boston, Chelmsford, and North Attleboro, going into lockdown Monday morning. And another school doing the same, right here in Western Massachusetts.
In Westfield, a threat was called into White Oak School from a cell phone. Westfield police determined it was a ‘non-credible’ threat. These false school threats are also often referred to as a ‘swatting hoax’ because they could attract a large police presence and even a SWAT team.
Swatting is also often used as a ‘harassment technique’ to call emergency police response against an innocent person. The FBI reports that there are nearly 400 of these incidents each year. Some people question the impacts of these fake threats on the students and school staff. As mass shootings continue to be a real threat across the country.
“As a teacher, it’s horrific to think we put in these long hours and we aren’t really well-compensated, and then also “hey be on the front lines” for this targeted violence,” added Doherty. “It’s really scary and I can’t imagine, having an emergency response comes, for kindergarteners all the way through high school, it’s pretty awful.”
Massachusetts state law indicates that anyone who intentionally makes a false report of a crime to the police will be punished with a fine of $500 and a year in jail. And in Westfield, there is an investigation underway, and 22News continues to cover this story and provide more details as soon as they become available.