Highland Park school officials focus on mental health after FL shooting

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Highland Park school officials say they want to focus on the mental health of their students in order to prevent violence in the classroom.

School Superintendent Dr. Scott Taylor says that the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, will haunt him. Wednesday’s massacre left 17 people dead and more injured. The suspected shooter allegedly pulled the fire alarm in order to lure students out of classrooms.

“The way it was conducted has struck fear in me and concern that I didn’t feel with other school shootings in recent memory,” Taylor says.

RELATED: The latest on the Florida high school mass shooting

The superintendent says that he wants to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to protecting his students.

Taylor sent a letter home to parents Thursday detailing the district’s efforts to focus on mental health. The efforts include working to avoid isolating students who are punished for bad behavior, connecting those students to their community and teaching them confidence.

A teen center will offer counseling to students who need it every day.

“The root of the problem is the kids’ well-being. If we can address that first, we don’t have to worry as much about the potential for tragedy,” Taylor says.

Taylor also says he encourages parents to talk to their children about school shootings. He says that he worries many kids appear to be desensitized and keeping quiet about what they feel.

“Our kids are keeping it inside, not talking as much as they might because for some it might seem like just another shooting that occurred, which in turn leads to physiological stress that happens when you do keeps these things inside,” says Taylor.

Highland Park’s District Safety committee has been meeting semi-monthly since 2015 to help school staff maintain safety practices.

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