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State lawmakers, educators looking into mental health resources after Texas shooting

School shooters have tendency to have mental health issues, according to the Secret Service.
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 10:00 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - School districts across Tennessee look specifically at security and emergency preparedness when it comes to preventing school shootings. A resource some officials want to see more emphasis on is mental health.

Licensed counselor Meredith Wood said signs of mental health struggles are easy to spot.

“Looking for poor hygiene, looking for dirty clothes, looking for a child that’s hesitant when they interact,” Wood said.

While it may be clear to see, she said teachers either need more time or schools need more mental health resources if the matter is addressed in school.

“Don’t let someone get desperate to where they’ve not been heard and they lash out,” Wood said.

Tennessee educators also want more discussions in schools. Executive director of Professional Educators in Tennessee JC Bowman said it’s a discussion that needs attention immediately.

“If we can’t keep our teachers and kids safe, public education is going to go to the wayside,” Bowman said.

Bowman mentioned pushing for more anti-bullying measures in schools. State lawmakers also want to pitch in with legislation.

Rep. Jason Zachary said more money for schools is a part of the plan.

“Taking the steps necessary in terms of funding and resources and direction to be able to increase security, to appropriate new dollars for mental health,” Rep. Zachary said.

Money and new legislation can help provide these resources, but some lawmakers think federal help is needed for background checks. Sen. Richard Briggs said checking someone’s mental health in a background check really only works on the federal level.

“It really has to be on a federal database whether it’s the FBI or Homeland Security,” Sen. Briggs said.

Sen. Briggs also said it gets tricky in terms of creating legislation between medical and personal privacy while also protecting Tennesseans.

Tennessee educators also said COVID-19 stopped meeting with the state’s School Safety Taskforce. Bowman said those conversations need to restart immediately.

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