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Living with a new normal: Students cope with fears of violence in wake of school shootings

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    Reilly Bauer poses for a photo on the bleachers of the Panther Valley Intermediate School Gym.

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    School in the Panther Valley District starts Monday. DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS

Published August 24. 2019 06:51AM

 

On Monday, Reilly Bauer will start her sophomore year at Panther Valley High School.

She has already finished her shopping, bought some new clothes and attended the first event of the school year: “Meet the Panthers,” a kickoff for fall sports.

Bauer, 15, has also made a plan with her friends for what they would do if an active shooter came to their school. The group created a buddy system, promising that in an emergency, they would find each other.

“It’s kind of depressing, but if it really does come down to it, I want to be prepared,” Bauer said.

Bauer’s mother, Colleen Bauer, home-schooled her daughter until the sixth grade. She was enrolled in the Panther Valley School District for middle school. But before Bauer started her freshman year, Colleen decided to take her out of the public system again.

That is because during the 2017-18 school year — when Bauer was in eighth grade — the district had five emergency lockdowns. In one instance, threatening graffiti had been written in a girls’ bathroom; in another, a bullet had been found on campus.

“I remember thinking, ‘that’s it, I’m yanking her out.’ It wasn’t worth it to me to be fearful all the time,” Colleen said.

Bauer stayed connected to her friends, but she missed being in school.

“She begged me to come back,” Colleen remembered.

Bauer eventually got her wish, but says after the lockdowns two years ago, she still fears for her safety, and the safety of her friends and family who are also students in the district.

“It was scary to think something could actually happen, even though everyone assures you that you’re safe,” she said.

Are school shootings becoming more common?

In 2012, 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Six years later, a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, left 17 dead and another 17 injured. Three months after that, a Santa Fe High School student walked into the Texas school armed with a shotgun, killing eight students and two teachers.

Considering those are just three of more than 200 U.S. schools where students have been exposed to gun violence on campus since the Columbine massacre in 1999, according to data collected by The Washington Post, it would seem school shootings are a new normal.

But James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, told NPR last year that schools are safer today than they were in the past. In a study released in 2018, Fox and doctoral student Emma Fridel found that while multiple-victim shootings are increasing, for schools, those events average just one a year, according to an NPR report.

But while bullets may be more common on the streets than they are in schools, the Pew Research Center found that 57% of teens say they are somewhat or very worried that their school may become the site of the next shooting.

At Transitions, an adolescent day-treatment program in the Lehigh Valley Health Network, many patients are treated for school-related anxieties, stemming from fears of being bullied, being in crowded places and sometimes, becoming victims of violence at school, program director Ken Mead said.

Dealing with some of those worries, he added, starts with having honest conversations with students.

“I think the most important thing is that you validate their fears without worsening them,” Mead said. “You validate that, yes, you can have these fears, but you also at the same time try to reassure them that the school is still a very, very safe place to be.”

Pushing herself

Bauer was diagnosed with autism when she was 4 years old, and she has social anxiety. But she loves to perform. She is a cheerleader at Panther Valley. She has been in the drama club. And earlier this summer, she competed at the Miss Amazing nationals competition. Participants were all girls and women with disabilities.

For the show, Bauer gave her rendition of “Spoonful of Sugar,” from the 1964 classic “Mary Poppins.”

“It doesn’t matter if you forget a line,” she said. “You’re just in the moment so much that you really just embody the character you’re playing. … I think I really do push myself.”

But being a student is not like being on stage. For Bauer, going to school presents its own set of worries — and gun violence on campus is one of them.

Bauer said she plans to face that fear head-on, too.

“I feel like if we can get other people talking about it, we can make a bigger impact on how to be ready and what we could do, even if it’s not going to happen,” she said.

 

Comments
School hasn't even started yet and this? People wonder why Trump hates the media. Yes I'm shaking my damn head.
The shootings are terrible tragedies don't get me wrong there. And I'm not saying the media glorifies them in any way. What I think is the media coverage gives the shooters exactly what they want and that is a little bit of fame. When a shooting happens it's all you see in the news. Then another disturbed individual sees it and thinks it could be a great idea. And another shooting occurs.
It's fine to report on it, but not everyday all day just to score ratings. And to report how the kids fear the violence before school even starts is just setting some deranged kid up to prey on those fears.
I never knew people still have powers and make things happened this way. My name is Tessa Kitty am from Usa. my boyfriend Slay Scot left me for another girl for three months' ever since then my life have been filled with pains sorrow and heart break because he was my first love who i had in my collage about two years ago, A friend of mine kido Matthew told me he saw some testimonies of this great Dr osauyi that he can bring back lover within some few days, i laugh it out and said i am not interested but because of the love my friend had for me, she consulted the great priest on my behalf and to my greatest surprise after three days my boyfriend is going to call me for the very first time after three months that he is missing me and that he is so sorry for every thing he made me went through. i still can't believe it, because it highly unbelievable it just too real to be real. Thank you Dr osauyi for bringing back my lover and also to my lovely friend who interceded on my behalf, for any one who might need the help of this great priest here is the email address

Osauyilovespell@yahoo.com
Osauyilovespellhelp@gmail.com
WhatsApp +905385050893
Apparently, people like you CG, are incredulously unaware that fake news outlets like CNN & MSNBC have a hate President Trump agenda. Every 10 minutes over the last 2.5 years Trump has been called a traitor or a Russian spy and threatened with impeachment. If “free press” consists of honest journalism, then that is extinct. I shake my head when I see such things as your “psychological profiling via binoculars.” How would you like if you went through such public ridicule that is fake? You can not face honest criticism, let alone this garbage. Thank God President Trump is a strong fighter that takes on all adversity...at once. Someday a free press will emerge out of the rubble and ruins of the current fake news. Someday, CG, you will see honest reporting. Keep looking for it.
A psychiatrist that specializes in addiction has something to say about Trump and that makes him the authority on the psychotic state of President Trump? Since when? I'm sorry I'm not spoon-fed shat by a media pushing an agenda.
Americans have always been fighters. Americans look trouble right in the eyes as they defeat it...always. Liberals aren’t even focused on the problem as they want to put a bucket of rocks in a “no gun zone” as the only means of defense in a school full of precious children. Liberals want to create additional gun laws conceived by ignorant gun haters that wrests control through confiscation of guns that are owned and properly cared for by millions of lawful citizens. Guns do not pull their own trigger. In every case, a crazy person with a long record of mental illness that went unchecked out of fear of liberal political correctness is the root cause. NRA members never do this stuff. Then, as if that is not enough, a victimization story rises to reinforce a liberal agenda. The story should be : criminals and crazies should not be allowed to handle guns. Children should be protected by ex- military, police, volunteers. Only good people with guns can protect people from bad people with guns. This terrible stuff has been going on for years. To blame it on Trump is just ignorant.
Sure, Countrygirl, I read that interview with Dodes in Salon - a far left leaning rag. And the article starts with how no doctor should make a diagnosis based on hearsay and public snippet - and then he goes right on to make that "diagnosis" based on hearsay and public snippets. The article, Salon magazine- and this doctor - are lame garbage.
I never knew people still have powers and make things happened this way. My name is Tessa Kitty am from Usa. my boyfriend Slay Scot left me for another girl for three months' ever since then my life have been filled with pains sorrow and heart break because he was my first love who i had in my collage about two years ago, A friend of mine kido Matthew told me he saw some testimonies of this great Dr osauyi that he can bring back lover within some few days, i laugh it out and said i am not interested but because of the love my friend had for me, she consulted the great priest on my behalf and to my greatest surprise after three days my boyfriend is going to call me for the very first time after three months that he is missing me and that he is so sorry for every thing he made me went through. i still can't believe it, because it highly unbelievable it just too real to be real. Thank you Dr osauyi for bringing back my lover and also to my lovely friend who interceded on my behalf, for any one who might need the help of this great priest here is the email address

Osauyilovespell@yahoo.com
Osauyilovespellhelp@gmail.com
WhatsApp +905385050893
CG, I am not sure why you feel the need to criticize “critical thinking skills of Trumps...” followers. Just because others disagree with you, by the millions, actually, doesn’t indicate a “cult following.” Are you insinuating that Trump followers are brainwashed fools, or something? Never make the mistake of thinking you are better than anyone else, or smarter, just because you have a different viewpoint. Your Great German father that encouraged you to be outspoken, should have checked your condescension. Frankly, some of the sources you quote are so biased you would be better off tossing them away. A psychological evaluation of Trump with binoculars by a fraud Doctor in Salon magazine is one of the best things I have seen in a while.
President Trump made a joke in the privacy of the Oval Office about this. Somehow the joke leaked out, much to the satisfaction of haters like you Joe, starved for any tidbit of information to belittle Trump’s reputation. If you were studied in meteorology, you would know that years ago nuking hurricanes was proposed as a legitimate way of breaking them up. Also, cloud seeding was actually used with pretty good results. Nuking hurricanes was determined to be a bit much. Cloud seeding was attempted successfully.
Nuff said.
People like Countyrgirl and her ilk have the critical thinking skills of a goldfish, leading me to mourn for the future of this country. People with intelligence watch ALL sides of the story - the mainstream media as well as Fox news. to get the complete picture. Only then will you see how heavily slanted the news outlets are.
No problemo,just zone the kids out like the V.A. zoned out Vietnam Vets when they came home with Paxil and Klonopin
Some of the idiotic comments on here are just sick coming from uneducated goobers who have watched too many war movies and think they saw combat
With respect, I thank you for the service, and regret the way this country treated the Vietnam Vets. There is no comparison here sir... none!
This story is an example of media sensationalism.

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