Bismarck, ND – New research from the Secret Service suggests mental health and bullying can play large roles in mass attacks. We break down the research and talk to schools about the resources available for your kids.
Emily Schmid started getting bullied in middle school.
“I just thought I was one of the ugliest people,” she said.
It sent her to a dark place, emotionally.
“I slept a lot. Or I would pretend to be sick so I didn’t have to leave my bedroom,” Schmid explained.
Bullying and mental health can often be linked together. Bismarck Public Schools surveys students to keep an eye on their mental health.
“One in three kids have gone through an anxiety situation or depression for two weeks or more. One in five kids have had suicidal thoughts. So we are definitely seeing a rise in our community as well as across the country,” Legacy High School Assistant Principal and former counselor Nadine Butts said.
That leads to greater problems.
“Depression, anxiety trigger so many criminal behaviors,” she said.
The secret service released a new report that seems to agree. It studied 28 mass attacks of public places in 2017.
In those attacks the secret service found that nearly two thirds of the suspects had a mental health symptom. In addition to that, 46% were motivated by some sort of personal grievance like bullying or feeling disliked by a class mate. And all of the suspects, 100% had what they called a significant stressor occur within five years of the attack. One of those stressors is a negative school environment.
Bismarck Public Schools is constantly working to address these concerns; teaching kids at a young age.
“We teach every year, kindergarten through fifth grade we teach bullying prevention,” Moses Elementary School Counselor Hope Rush said.
And a new anti-bullying task force has given three presentations at area schools for kids and parents.
“Start to look for changes in eating, sleeping….and just really an open line of communication with your child,” Butts said.
Schmid said she did not tell anyone about her bullying for months.
“Which is probably one of the biggest mistakes I ever made,” Schmid said.
A mistake she hopes will not be repeated by others.
“It’s okay not to be okay and to get that help you need is one of the most important things,” Schmid said.
She said if you are bullied or feel depressed, tell someone you trust…a parent a school counselor.
They can help.
The school district has created a number of resources on the topic. Click here to read more and see a recent presentation from the Anti-Bullying Task Force.