Southwest Florida has seen eight school threats in only five weeks, and those are just the ones we know about. What’s going on with our children, and what can we do to help them?
Experts say stress is a major factor in a lot of cases they’re seeing. WINK News spoke with Ariella VanHara, the director of crisis services at the David Lawrence Center for Behavioral Health in Collier County. She says since the pandemic, students have felt stressed both at home and at school.
VanHara says it’s important that the students talk about their concerns with their parents, teachers or a school counselor. Her advice to parents: Do not to hesitate when it comes to getting your children the help they need.
“That could be through services through our center, reaching out to their insurance company to find a provider that is within [their] network for them for coverage,” VanHara said. “There’s mobile crisis teams that are available 24/7, there’s crisis support hotlines that you can use, there’s so many different options nowadays that make services readily available for somebody.”
VanHara also says, as far as keeping your schools safe, if you see something, make sure to say something.
Some of the recent school threats have involved guns. WINK spoke to a gun safety expert who says the best thing parents can do is educate their children and explain to them what can really happen when someone gets injured with a firearm.
Kyle Schutte, owner of KMB Firearms Training, located at 1400 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers, also suggests familiarizing your children with guns and teaching them respect for firearms. He says he grew up with a gun being used for hunting and target practice. But, if you are a gun owner and do have children in your home, Schutte says you are obligated to secure it and make sure your children can’t get their hands on it.
“You have the gun safes, you have even trigger locks and cable locks that go through the firearm to disable them,” Schutte said. “It’s not going to stop somebody from taking it, but it’s going to stop somebody from using it. Keep your firearm in a separate locked container so that it’s not accessible, and it makes it doubly hard to be able to use a firearm if there’s no ammunition in it and it’s locked away in another container.”
Schutte says it’s important to take advantage of the many safety precautions available for firearms and to keep everybody in your home safe and educated.