WPDE — The hoax school shooting threats that happened Wednesday have raised questions about the impact it has on student mental health.
Horry County mother Amber Willets had conversations about shootings and violence at school with her two sons multiple times. They’re only 8 and 9 years old.
Wednesday's incidents are the reason Willets gets nervous about dropping her kids off at school.
"It’s pretty sad that every day we do send them off to school that they’re not safe. That does concern me a little bit, so I make sure to tell them I love them every day and pray for the best," Willets said.
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She said that talking about topics like gun violence at school allows her to answer any questions they have.
“I am a very transparent mother with my kids, and I always raise awareness with any type of situation like that. We will sit down and talk about it regardless, and I hope that other parents do the same," Willets said.
Willets' nine-year-old son, Kayden, is in fourth grade and appreciates these conversations with his mother.
"If she doesn’t talk about it then the student or person that’s doing wouldn’t get in trouble, so she’s just trying to be on the safe side," he said.
He said having security guards around and practicing lockdowns makes him feel safe.
"That kind of gets the worries off of my mind," he said.
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Sandy Quast, a therapist with Coastal Haven Counseling, said school shootings are happening so often that it's leading to young children developing anxiety or being scared to go to school.
"For them, at their age, it kind of brings to them the thought that my days might be numbered. Normally, as a little kid, you don’t think those things, but you see police officers in the schools with guns, and all of a sudden you’re fearing for your own life," Quast said.
If you're looking to talk to your kids about the incidents, she recommends just asking them about it.
"As a parent ask probing questions to find out what they know, if anything, and if they do know things how are they feeling about it," Quast said.
Amber’s youngest son eight-year-old, Kameron, has his own advice to help the ones struggling during these tough situations.
"You have to protect people, listen to people and take care of your people," he said.
If your kid doesn't want to talk about it, look for signs like playing sick to avoid going to school, falling grades or not doing activities they used to like doing.
The South Carolina Coalition for Safer Schools called on local, state and national leaders to make child well-being and safety their highest priority.