Teach your teens that swatting is no joke

As you are aware, teenagers love to emulate their peers, whether they are in school or on social media. When everyone in a group of kids is doing the same thing, it can be difficult for even an intelligent and well-meaning kid to make the right choice, especially if others say it is harmless or that “everyone is doing it.” Sometimes the results of following the crowd are benign, but other times there can be serious repercussions and even criminal charges. Your kids and others in Massachusetts should understand the potential penalties of a popular prank called swatting.

You may have heard about this activity, especially after a tragic incident that occurred last December in Wichita, Kansas, which made national news. Reportedly, an argument over a multi-player online game resulted in a California man calling authorities and posing as the Kansas man, saying he had killed a member of his family and was holding others hostage at gunpoint. After armed officers arrived and the unsuspecting man answered his door, they shot and killed him when they thought he was reaching for a weapon.

What is swatting?

Swatting is so called because the intent is to lure SWAT teams or armed law enforcement to an innocent person’s address. People often play this prank after a disagreement on social media or over an internet game, but some may persuade your teen and others to participate in a false police call against a school, classmate, celebrity or government building.

Can your teen face charges?

In the case of the innocent man from Kansas, law enforcement arrested the man who made the phone call, and he is facing felony charges for filing a false police report. Reportedly, the man had a reputation for making such calls in the past. However, your teenager could face charges even if he or she was unaware that swatting is a serious crime and not merely a harmless joke.

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