Addressing mental health amid school threats

Another day of threats at schools across Acadiana on Friday.

in Lafayette, Paul Breaux Middle School student now faces terrorist charges. Police said the student told the school resources officer that two students were seen on campus with their rifles on Friday morning — but the officers said the information was wrong and created another crisis. The school received full clearance after being inspected by the Lafayette Police Department and the sheriff’s office.

In Iberia Parish, the Everything was made clear at Anderson Middle School After the campus was evacuated due to a bomb threat that same day. This threat was posted on social media.

However, many parents across Acadiana have told KATC that the effects of these multiple threats go beyond the class bell, changing the tone of dinner conversations.

“I’m scared, I’m just scared,” 8-year-old Kaisin Joseph told KATC when asked how he felt about going to school amid threats.

Others told KATC that times are changing – parents specifically said they are losing sight of where to turn.

“My grandson is worried about this, it’s affecting them,” said Marjorie Monroe, a grandmother to two students from Lafayette High School and the aunt of one. “They don’t really know how to deal with that either, and they don’t really know what’s happening to them.”

In New Iberia, Donald Trahan said he once had doubts about where to send his children to school.

“I am happy that my children are being educated at home at this point,” he said.

Then there is David Wells. A father of a middle and high school student in New Iberia said that parents at KATC can only do their best to understand their children during these unprecedented times.

“You really have to sit back and pay attention to what your child is telling you,” Wells said. “And try to read their feelings to her before you can give them an answer to what’s going on.

Licensed professional counselor, Michelle Hernandez, tells us this is absolutely true. However, when it comes to these threats, she said at the end of the day, it’s about brain development.

“We can’t think long-term about the consequences at these young ages,” said Hernandez, who also has a son at Lafayette High School. “And that’s why when we’re at this age, we don’t make good decisions and do stupid things because we think we’re invincible. People talk about indomitable teens thinking nothing can happen to them when it’s possible.”

So what is a parent – or student, supposed to do, in that regard?

Hernandez told KATC that although it may sound cliched, prioritizing self-care and vigilance, journaling, and connecting with a friend are good ways for anyone. For children specifically, it helps to contact a guidance counselor or adult that you trust. She noted that it is easy to feel anxious or depressed in times like these – but that parents should also strive to have open relationships with their children, so they can better recognize the symptoms of these disorders.

“If you notice that they are more irritable or protective, which many teens actually act this way because of the changes they are going through, but if you notice that it is getting worse, that is something to watch,” Hernandez said. “Also, if they stop participating in the activities they used to enjoy previously, that’s a red flag.”

Hernandez also mentioned that while it may not always be available to all families, scheduling a treatment appointment with a licensed professional can help.

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