After national social media shooting scare, districts reminds of existing resources for intervention, safety

At 7:50 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 17, ten people walked into Brian Winkel’s journalism classroom at Cedar Falls High School for first hour–less than half the usual number of students. Dec. 17 was a day known across social media apps such as Tiktok as “National School Shooting Day.” 

Although Cedar Falls law enforcement found no threats in the Cedar Falls School District, the district office decided to make attendance optional for students the night before, when administrators first heard of it. “We heard about it the day before,” associate principal Rafael Benitez said. “I have friends and family members that work in different schools that heard similar things, so when we heard about it, we knew it was going to be something we had to address right away.”

This issue has brought attention to possible traits or warning signs displayed in those likely to harm themselves or others and has made mental health crisis services more well-known in order to stop school attacks from happening.

Those who participate in school attacks often, but not always, have some sort of mental illness, grow up in a home where they face abuse or other trauma, or are economically insecure, according to The Heritage Foundation

Now more than ever, there are services and hotlines for people to call if they are suffering with mental illness, trauma or abuse. “We do address much more with mental health, I think because,” Benitez said, “it’s been neglected for years.”
He said, “We have a Pathways counselor, for if cost is a barrier or students are dealing with substance abuse. We also have a mobile crisis hotline called Elevate, [which is] a place in Waterloo too. In the event that you’re having a serious mental crisis, you can call someone who can pick you up and take you there, where they have a psychiatrist and a counselor for free. It’s very nice to have those in a community like this.”

The student body at the Cedar Falls elementaries, junior highs and high school can also work to stop attacks through means of anonymous reports on the school’s website. “For sure, if you see something, say something. Our number one priority is to make sure this building is safe,” Benitez said. “[In terms of] peer to peer reaction, you never know what someone is going through–you can hide pain with a smile; some people do a really good job of it, but you can see some people’s pain and sadness as they walk. I think everywhere you go, you have to put yourself in other people’s shoes and remember that their experiences are different from yours. You deserve the best, and you have to believe it as much as the people around you.”

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