School Threats Impact Children's Mental Health

3 years 1 week 1 day ago Friday, February 23 2018 Feb 23, 2018 February 23, 2018 10:05 PM February 23, 2018 in News

MCALLEN – False reports of threats to Rio Grande Valley schools are circling social media.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS learned even rumors of threats may affect your child’s mental well-being after tragedies like the Parkland shooting.

A mental health professional explained what the warning signs of post-traumatic stress disorder in children.

“My number one concern is just my daughter being safe and happy,” Aley Marshal said.

Marshal is a proud parent. She said she and her husband do the best they can to protect their young daughter from being exposed to terrifying events.

The Parkland shooting is making that task more difficult. She told CHANNEL 5 NEWS rumors of school threats are swirling around Valley school districts.

“It’s terrifying that I can’t even send her to school without her being on edge that something is going to happen,” Marshal explained.

Stephanie Contreras is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She said those rumors of threats in some cases are enough to affect a child’s mental state.

“If they perceive a threat to them then they are very affected, even by listening to it. Usually, you’re talking about post-traumatic stress disorder which children do have,” Contreras said.

That’s right PTSD. Contreras said if untreated the condition may affect a child’s performance in school and overall well being for a lifetime.

She explained parents need to be on the lookout for several signs, “an abrupt change in the sleeping, eating, what they enjoy doing, what the child enjoys doing, avoidance of their friendships and relatives.”

Contreras said ignoring it will only allow symptoms to worsen.  She recommends allowing your child to see a mental health professional If you notice these symptoms.

Marshal says she will continue to protect her daughter from negativity as long as she can.

Contreras adds in her experience it’s important to create an open environment for your children to express their concerns and fears.

She says allowing them to speak to you rather them forcing them is the way to go.

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