Bay Area schools step up patrols after deadly South Florida school shooting

- School districts in the Tampa Bay area announced an increase in law enforcement’s presence at school campuses after a gunman opened fire at a South Florida school, killing 17 people. It’s not because of any specific threats, school officials say, but just to offer a peace of mind to parents and students.

School officials with Polk, Pasco, Manatee and Hillsborough counties announced the increase in patrols will start Thursday morning.

The shooting in Parkland, Florida is likely the deadliest school shooting in the Broward County’s history. The shooter was identified as former student, Nikolas Cruz, with no clear motive as of Thursday morning, and used an AR-15 rifle with multiple magazines in the shooting.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the suspected shooter had been expelled for disciplinary problems.

School violence is a tough topic to discuss between parents and children.

According to the National Association of School Psychologists:

High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can confuse and frighten children who may feel in danger or worry that their friends or loved-ones are at risk. They will look to adults for information and guidance on how to react. Parents and school personnel can help children feel safe by establishing a sense of normalcy and security and talking with them about their fears.

They advise parents to:

Review safety procedures at school and home. Identify at least one adult at school who the child can go to if they feel threatened in anyway.

Observe the emotional state of your child or children. Some kids won’t express themselves verbally, so any changes to behavior, appetite, or sleep pattern can indicate that the child may have an issue with anxiety

Limit TV viewing to these types of event. If you have young kids around certain content or coverage can cause anxiety or confusion, and that is also true for teenagers.

Maintain a normal schedule, especially when it comes to sleep and feeling emotionally sound.

Keep your explanations “developmentally appropriate.” If you’re talking to younger kids, like in elementary school, NASP suggests keeping your explanations brief and balance with reassurances that schools and homes are safe. Give kids examples of the safety procedures in place at schools. NASP offers tips for other age groups.

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