The wave of swatting incidents in New Jersey and across the country in recent weeks are not only impacting police departments and their budgets, they are impacting children emotionally.

The rash of swatting incidents could cause emotional distress for students. (surpasspro, ThinkStock)
The rash of swatting incidents could cause emotional distress for students. (surpasspro, ThinkStock)

Whether a school is locked down or entered into a "shelter-in-place," when students can pass through halls and classrooms, administrators in many districts are working on ways to effectively communicate with these youngsters to minimize their concerns.

Some children are more vulnerable than others to anxiety. Some are predisposed to anxiety and some have had traumatic events in their lives, according to Dr. Steven Tobias, director of the Center for Childhood and Family Development in Morristown.

"These types of incidents can bring back any of those feelings they may have. Feelings of anxiety can lead to school phobia and other issues. The people who are engaging in these activities don't understand the emotional impact that it can have on others, especially young kids," he said.

What can a parent do?:

  • Accept and validate how the child is feeling;
  • Reassure the child that school is a very safe place; and
  • Help the child get to a point where he or she can reassure themselves that they are safe.

"You can't tell someone how to feel and just tell them not to worry. The first thing I would have a parent to is listen to the child," Tobias said. "They should also use fact to reassure the child that school is very safe. When an incident happens and it makes the news, it causes us to think that schools are much less safe than they truly are, but the fact is that school is one of the safest places to be. Just because something could happen doesn't mean that it's going to."

For those suffering with more serious symptoms including fear of going to school or the inability to concentrate, professional counseling would be the best option.

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