Several schools have been placed on lockdown in recent months for threats of a gun on campus, threats of a shooting or a student bringing a gun to campus.
PHOENIX – During the fall semester, several local schools have been placed on lockdown after receiving threats of guns on campus, shootings, or even a student bringing a gun to school.
While there is a criminal side to these situations, it is also affecting a student’s mental health due to the many school shootings occurring across the country.
The district attorney suggests mental health resources, safety
In recent months, several students have faced charges for bringing weapons to schools around Arizona.
Including, a 9-year-old student in Pinal County, who brought a loaded gun to school in November.
As for what can help in situations where threats come to school campuses, Maricopa County District Attorney Rachel Mitchell says education on the signs to look for is important.
“When I’m prosecuting cases where someone has really gone off the rails with behavior, you look back, there were so many warning signs,” said Maricopa County District Attorney Rachel Mitchell, Maricopa County District Attorney.
Mitchell says safety can also be improved and more mental health resources are also needed.
“Maybe what it informs us to do is to do a better education of what to look for so that we can intervene at an earlier point before this kind of thing happens. But again, if they are determined, you know, that they’re going to find a way,” Mitchell said.
When it comes to cases of students bringing a gun to school, licensed marriage and family therapist Victoria Secrist notes that there may be something deeper going on in the students’ lives.
“It could be that they have a more serious mental health condition as well, but you really don’t know if you’re not able to take that time to evaluate like, ‘What was your intention with this? What’s going on in it? really?'” Sekristi said.
Threats affect students’ mental health
Earlier in December, Cactus Shadows High School was placed on lockdown after a student was believed to have seen another student carrying a revolver in a parking lot.
Scottsdale police later said the student was actually carrying a laptop.
“That example, I think, just shows that kids don’t feel safe, right?” Secrist said.
Secrist notes access to social media and live video of school shootings across the country has also impacted children’s safety.
“It’s a real experience that they’re going through and that I imagine a lot of different kids are going through right now,” Secrist said.
When these situations occur, Secrist encourages parents to talk to their children without distractions and stay open about how their child is feeling, even if it differs from their perspective.
“I see more hope in that, right, because we’re not ignoring what’s going on at a societal level or within the school or at home, right, we’re able to open it up and say, ‘Hey, how is that affecting you?” Secrist said.
If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, there is help and there is hope. Contact me National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in 988.
- Teen Lifeline: 602-248-8336. Online messaging is available from noon to 9pm on weekdays or from 3pm to 9pm on weekends. The hotline is also open for calls every day.
- Crisis text line: Text HOME to 741741
- Community referrals: 211Arizona.org
- Nationwide Resources: https://www.azspc.org/resources.html
- Crisis Teams: 480-784-1500
- Maricopa County Crisis Hotline: 602-222-9444
- Free Zoom Community Meetings on Youth Mental Health can also be found at https://preparedparentingaz.org/.
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