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#JamesDonaldson On #MentalHealth – As #Student #Violence Surges, Educators Say #MentalHealthIssues Are ‘Absolutely Through The Roof’ And Draining #Teachers

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Hannah Towey

First Day Of School For Students At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Scene Of February Mass Shooting That Killed 17
First day of school for #students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, scene of 2018 mass shooting that killed 17 
  • #Schools around the country are reporting an increase in #student #violence, some targeting #teachers.
  • Educators told Insider it’s likely linked to #mentalhealthissues that worsened over the #pandemic.
  • One counselor said #students are showing symptoms of #PTSD with #depression rates “through the roof.” 

At a Florida middle #school, 87 #students have gotten in physical fights since #school began last month.

At an Illinois high #school, 70 #students have been suspended for violent altercations, the superintendent said. 

At a New York high #school, two #students were cut during an altercation, causing #parents to demand more safety agents.

At a Kentucky lower #school, a counselor said she has assessed 26 #students ages eight through 10 for #suicide risk since May.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

And it’s only October. 

“We just confiscated a gun from a 10-year-old,” Anna Fusco, president of the Broward #Teachers Union in Florida, told Insider.

“First-graders slapped a #teacher in the face, second-graders slapped a #teacher in the face, middle schoolers corralled around a #teacher and shoved her,” she said. “Every single day I get a story from an educator.”

On Friday, the nation’s largest #teachers union said #socialmedia has “helped create a culture of fear and #violence with educators as targets,” in a letter addressed to Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter that was shared with The Wall Street Journal. 

Union leaders referenced the “devious lick” challenge that led #students to vandalize and steal #school property, as well as the “slap a teacher” challenge. TikTok removed hashtags and content related to devious lick in September. 

#School staff members across the country told Insider they are seeing surges in #student outbursts, from vandalism and verbal altercations to gun violence and slashing.

Fusco said #teachers have been trained on “how to handle a shooter when he comes in,” but not on preventing #violence long-term. 

“All our districts care about is getting the curriculum, pounding on the academics,” she told Insider. “There’s nowhere near the level of training that can really make a vast difference in a #student.”

Now, #school #counselors are sounding the alarm on what they believe to be a main driver behind the #violence: #student #mentalhealth. 

“The number of #suicide threats in my own #school has skyrocketed since #COVID,” Amy Riley, a #school #counselor at Mercer County Intermediate #School in Kentucky, told state lawmakers on Tuesday. “Just this morning, I had to do a #suicide risk assessment on a 9-year-old in my #school before I came to this hearing today.” 

Riley told Insider that she’s assessed 26 #students ages eight through 10 for #suicide risk since May, many of whom were then hospitalized or enrolled in therapy.

Before the #pandemic, she said she would only have one or two #suicide assessments a month. Now she sees two or three #students every day. 

Even still, Riley said she feels lucky, since many rural #schools in Kentucky have just one #counselor, and some have none at all. Including Riley, she said, Mercer County has a total of three. 

“At least they were in #school and we were able to talk to them and get them the help that they needed,” she said. “What we are finding is that a lot of the symptoms of #PTSD … are being mirrored in our #students who are going through this #pandemic.”

TaRael Kee, an assistant principal at Collinsville High #School in Illinois, told Insider that there has been a “significant increase” in both #student #violence and #student #mentalhealthissues across the state.

Kee said they’ve doubled the number of #school #counselors since he started. Despite the additional hires, he said #teachers are constantly struggling with #students’ emotional challenges, contributing to burnout and low morale. 

“Some of our staff members are almost in a state of crisis themselves,” he said. 

To prevent #students from resorting to #violence as a result of poor #mentalhealth, Fusco said schools need more trained staff. 

“What’s most needed is bodies,” she said. “People that are properly trained to take on this extra toll of the #students with social-emotional situations.”

“But if you don’t have the funding for it, then you can’t do it,” she added. “And that’s one of the biggest problems.” 

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com
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