McNabb Center shares insights on how to help young people deal with trauma

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Six students that attended Austin-East Magnet High School have died this year from a shooting.

Justin Taylor was killed in January, Stanley Freeman Jr. was killed on February 12, Janaria Muhammad was killed days after. Jamarion Gillette was killed in March, and then Anthony Thompson Jr. was killed inside Austin-East in an officer-involved shooting in April.

For their friends and classmates, it has been a year of heavy loss. WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with Lindsay Stone, Director of Children’s Services at the McNabb Center about the impact of these shootings, and how kids can cope with what they might be feeling.

  • Repetition: One student dying in gun violence is traumatic, but six classmates is on a whole other scale
    “It’s hard for us adults to make sense of and deal with trauma. Anytime a student deals with re-experiencing trauma, even if they aren’t closely connected, it’s still in their environment. Some of those mental health symptoms can increase because of the added layers of re-experiencing it.”
  • What are students feeling?
    “It’s important to know every student can respond differently. Most of the students want to feel a sense of security. They still want to be with their friends and go to school. Be in a familiar environment, feeling safe, they do want to feel safe with where they are, we know that’s a protective factor for them to go forward.”
  • What are ways to handle these feelings?
    “Having a connection to school and family can be a positive thing. We also know that they’ve been through a lot. Being through something collectively and trauma can bring across symptoms of depression, anxiety, being fearful in an environment that once wasn’t fearful. We want to pay attention to that, and be proactive to be sure our students and family to what they need.”
  • For adults who know these students, and are watching them go through this, what do they need to know? What can they do to help?
    “Keep their routine as common as possible at home too. Be proactive in asking questions, don’t expect them to come to you, and making sure their environment feels safe. Get them help if they need help, short term or long term. Normalize mental health, let them know they’ve been through a lot, and we want to make sure as adults to give them a safe and secure environment in all settings.”
  • For adults who know these students, and are watching them go through this, what do they need to know? What can they do to help? “Keep their routine as common as possible at home too. Be proactive in asking questions, don’t expect them to come to you, and making sure their environment feels safe. Get them help if they need help, short term or long term. Normalize mental health, let them know they’ve been through a lot, and we want to make sure as adults to give them a safe and secure environment in all settings.”

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