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The impact additional school safety can have on students' mental health

An expert from A&M Central Texas University said students can have positive and negative impacts from added safety measures, especially more law enforcement.

CENTRAL, Texas — More security in schools can cause a heightened awareness amongst students, and anxiety for some.

Venne Baggett, who works in the department of Social Work at A&M Central Texas University, said it all depends on the personal experience of every student.

"A kindergartener might see law enforcement and say, 'oh I want to be a police officer when I grow up,'" Baggett said. "An 11th grader might say this is the experience I've had with them or this is what I see on social media."

Baggett said an older student might have seen something happen between a family member and law enforcement, or they might have had their own interactions that swayed their views.

If a child is experiencing anxiety, it might show as headaches, stomachaches, becoming easily frustrated, withdrawal, or using electronics more.

Baggett added that it is up to the school districts and the parents to bridge this gap that might cause students to feel a disconnect when more officers are in the building.

"Explain to students why you're doing these things – why these safety measures are important," Baggett said.

She added that not only will it alleviate that anxiety, it will also build that school family partnership that everyone desperately needs.

As for the Guardian and Marshall program and their impacts on children, Baggett said students might not even know they are there.

"If they knew about it, they would say 'okay there's someone I'm familiar with that is here to make me feel safe,'" she said. "And that may decrees those levels of anxiety."

Baggett added that this heightened awareness will follow children throughout their lives.

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