Policy solutions needed to keep students safe

The tragedy in Ovaldi, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed, represents the 27The tenth School shootings so far this year. There have been at least 17 mass shootings since the Ovaldi tragedy, according to Gun Violence Archivean organization that tracks mass shootings nationwide.

In 2018 and 2019, before the public health pandemic, there were 24 school shootings. Access to military-style automatic weapons played a large role. But, also, our increasingly fragile state of mind has worsened — for many, by the third year of COVID-19, its spikes and the side effect of financial stress.

The Census Bureau’s most recent household pulse survey (April 27 – May 9, 2022) found:

severe anxiety:

  • 20.8 million people have felt anxious or anxious over half the past two weeks (675,968 in North Carolina, of whom 106,119 were aged 18-29).
  • 31.4 million people have felt anxious or anxious almost every day for the past two weeks (881,317 in North Carolina, including 169,597 aged 18-29).


  • 18.9 million individuals have felt unable to stop or control anxiety over more than half of the past two weeks (563,694 in North Carolina, including 101,697 between the ages of 18 and 29).
  • 24.6 million people have felt unable to stop or control anxiety nearly every day for the past two weeks (687,001 in North Carolina, including 134,175 between the ages of 18 and 29).

Against adults of older age groups, individuals between 18 and 29 years of age experience anxiety and depression. recent analysis Of school shootings since Columbine High School in 1999 it found that 85 percent of school shooters brought guns from home or obtained them from friends or relatives and that 70 percent of school shooters were under 18. . There are political solutions that must be activated.

On the level of mental health, Institute of Education Sciences I mentioned this month which – which:

  • 70% of public schools report that the proportion of students who have sought mental health services has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 12% of public schools report that they strongly agree that their school is able to effectively provide mental health services to all students in need.

There are policy strategies that must be funded to better support the mental health needs of children in K-12 schools. The large proportion of the 18-29-year-old population who suffers from anxiety or depression does not happen overnight. It happens over time.

For the first time, NCDHHS Department of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services Grants $20 million in funding to five people Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) to expand access to evidence-based and integrated behavioral and physical health care in their communities. CCBHCs provide comprehensive, integrated services that support individuals with severe mental illness (SMI), severe emotional disorder (SED), SMI or SED and substance use disorder. Services include 24/7 crisis intervention services, outreach, screening and assessment, and more.

The North Carolina Early Childhood community has several strategies underway starting with children through their early years to support healthy social and emotional development, the foundation of lifelong resilience. We hope these services will continue to grow. They are needed more than ever.

The NC Young Children’s Quality Improvement Project (ITQEP) team serves all NC counties through young child specialists located in leading regional child care resources and referral agencies. Some specialists in infants are part of the new Infant Mental Health Association NC (NCIMHA), which supports a full, multidisciplinary gamut of services, supports, and policies to promote healthy development, prevent persistent problems, and treat mental health disorders among infants, young children, and children under five.

through NC . Children’s First Projectspecialists in young children are holding Security Paternity Department Parent sessions, designed to help parents promote the healthy development of their children. Books, videos, and other resources are used with parents to better meet the social and emotional needs of our young children.

The Healthy Social Behaviors Project (HSB) addresses behavioral issues in young children through services that help identify, prevent, and modify challenging behaviors, with the goal of reducing the expulsion rate and promoting healthy social and emotional development for all children in licensed child care centers in NC. The project supports DCDEE-licensed child care centers in North Carolina that serve children from birth to age 5 with an emphasis on teacher practices that can calm challenging behaviors.

These events affect us all. Like many of you, although I didn’t know any of the students or teachers, it’s personal. I am a mother, grandmother to a child in school every day, and mother to an amazing elementary school teacher. As a public high school teacher early in my career, I taught grades nine through twelve; Most of them were taller than I was, but armed students was not something I had ever thought of.

It is time that we care about our children and their caregivers, including parents, child care teachers, primary school teachers and after school providers. Mental health challenges don’t only appear when children reach 18 years of age. We’re all in this together to best meet the needs of children at every age – from the foundational years where the brain is wired and extending to the elementary school years with the flexibility of strategies. we can do this. But we need policy and financing strategies to ensure that no child is left behind.

Marsha Baszlo

Marsha Baslow is president of the Child Care Services Association.