Copycat threats, rumors can affect your child's mental health

Copycat threats, rumors can affect your child's mental health
Dr. Brandy Baker, a clinical psychologist, says rumors and threats can lead to anxiety in children. (Source: KOLD News 13)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Schools nationwide have seen an increase in threats and false alarms since the mass shooting in Parkland, FL, that left 17 dead on Feb. 14.

That includes many threats in southern Arizona, with the latest one being at Marana High School. A police investigation determined the threat was not valid and classes resumed as normal.

But health professionals say even rumors can have an affect on your child's mental health.

Dr. Brandy Baker, a clinical psychologist, says rumors and threats can lead to anxiety in children.

And she says that behavior tends to increase after tragedies. In this case, children can relate to the situation even more because it happened in a school, leading to more fears.

She says helping your child cope with these feelings can be difficult but important.

Baker says parents should talk to their kids about their concerns and let them take the lead. She warns against too much reassuring. She says parents shouldn't take the easy route and instead prepare their child.

"It's better to go with the what-ifs and say, 'OK, well let's think that through. What if that did happen? How would we navigate that situation?'" she said.

Baker also pointed to the importance of having a strong support system surrounding your child.

She says parents should encourage their children to seek help from those around them, such as teachers, school counselors or other trusted adults.

If your child is truly struggling with fear, Baker says it may be time to seek professional help for them.

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