Sunday, September 20, 2020
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Students at South Carroll examine mental illness

The Cavalier Chronicles, the student newspaper at South Carroll High School in Sykesville, Maryland, is running a series of stories about mental illness, particularly among young people. “Some will be anecdotal,” the staff write, “others will be more informative or discuss how to get help.”

One story in the series, published earlier today, is by a high school girl suffering from general anxiety disorder and social anxiety. She writes that interacting on a social level with people has been a problem for her and, while her medication alleviates some of the symptoms—such as “when addressing a crowd, or presenting a project in front of the class, I physically cannot look anyone in the eye” and still being “anxious doing things like getting up in the middle of class to go to the bathroom”—the medicine doesn’t truly cure her of her mental illness:

If you are going to take away anything from reading this article, I would like it to be that people struggling with mental illness cannot help how their brain works. You cannot simply will your issues away. So, if you know anyone going through something like this, refrain from alienating them and be there for them.

Based on the article, she’s on the path to recovery, and we applaud the student newspaper’s willingness to consider the subject of mental illness. “No, I’m not going to shoot up the school and I’m not dangerous,” she writes. But other students with certain mental illnesses are going to shoot up the school and threaten student safety.

Outside Washington, at Clarksburg High School in Montgomery County, student journalist Gabby Martin writes a piece entitled “Increased School Violence in MoCo Causes Safety Concerns.”

She refers to the recent school shooting in St Mary’s County, at Great Mills High School, which resulted in the death of one student plus the shooter, but also to a recent bomb threat at a nearby high school and to a student who brought a gun to Clarksburg.

“I felt terrified knowing students could bring weapons into our school so easily,” she quoted one senior girl as saying. “Very scary knowing that he even had access to a gun and I will, from now on, always have my guard up no matter what setting I’m in.”

School officials are also keeping their guard up, making teachers lock their classroom doors, requiring a key card to enter the building during school hours, and setting up a phone number anyone can text to if they see or hear anything suspicious inside or outside the school.

Proposal from Baltimore County

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced an $8 million public school safety package, which would become an annual county expense. It would provide for 109.5 new positions: 19 school resource officers, 22 social workers, 23 counselors, 18 school psychologists, as well as pupil personnel workers, health assistants and bus attendants.

“As government leaders, we all have an obligation to do everything that we can to protect our children, who really just want to learn, and also educators who just want to teach,” the Baltimore Sun quoted him as saying at a news conference Thursday at West Towson Elementary School.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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