Sunday, August 14, 2022

Is a knife in school a sign of mental illness?


A student at Linganore High School in Maryland was arrested Thursday and charged with first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and possession of a deadly weapon on school property, WMAR-TV (ABC affiliate) reports.

Linganore H.S. (school website)

Officials said that at about 9 AM Thursday, a 19-year-old male student showed a knife he had brought into the school, located on Old Annapolis Road in Frederick, Maryland, and threatened another student inside a classroom.

The threatened student reported the incident to a Frederick County Sheriff’s Office school resource officer, who took immediate action.

“This situation exemplifies the professional collaboration between the LHS team and FCSO to resolve a situation and maintain the safety of staff and students,” the station quoted Dan Lippy, director of school management and charter schools for the school district, as saying.

Linganore opened in 1962 and completed major renovations in 2010. It currently serves about 1,400 students.

All students and staff are reportedly safe at Linganore, but the same cannot be said of the incident at Oxford High School in Michigan last week, where four students were killed. Investigators there are looking into how liable the school or school officials might have been and into how negligent the shooter’s parents were in those deaths.

  • Listening to kids: Addressing fears about Oxford (MLive)

But schools around the world are recognizing an increase in the need for mental health services for students as they resume in-person instruction in the 2021-22 school year.

In Scotland, Marion Scott wrote in The Sunday Post that nine out of 10 children are more stressed than they were before the pandemic. Teachers are sounding warnings that many of those students fail to get the specialist support they need.

In Canada, Tanya Enberg reported in The Toronto Star that during the 2020-21 academic year, many students no longer had access to in-school social workers. Teens were disconnected from friends and spent long hours at home with family members.

Mental health providers are adapting in hopes of preventing young people from falling through the cracks, and charities are stepping up.

But, “People are coming in with depression, anxiety, family relationship issues, peer relationship issues, academic stress, and we also saw an increase in OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) cases,” the paper quoted Kennes Lin, the lead of youth and family services at a mental health association, as saying.

The US is not immune to pandemic-induced increases in the need for mental health services by young people. Warnings have been sounded in many states.

An op-ed in the Hartford Courant points to the mental health implications of the recent increase in violent crime among youth. “We need to recognize that juvenile crime is in most cases a manifestation of that same growing mental health crisis,” writes Thea Montañez in a guest post. She serves as the chief operating officer of the City of Hartford, where she leads the city’s work with justice-involved youth and adults, as well as victims of violent crime.

The paper also reported about three fights at a middle school in Manchester, New Hampshire—all in one day. Students involved in the fights “are facing consequences that include lengthy suspensions,” Superintendent Matt Geary wrote in a letter to the school community.

“I am asking parents and families to remind their students that if they are having an issue with another student or group of students to let an adult in the building know. While I understand that can be difficult at any age, that is the only way we can prevent fighting and altercations and collectively function as a safe and healthy school community.

“We will certainly continue to do everything we can to work to meet the needs of students who are struggling, but we have no tolerance for fighting.”

Paul Katula
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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