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Blue Springs parents, community recall trauma from mass shooting threat

Community thanks local officers for heroism
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Posted at 5:43 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 18:43:08-04

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — The weight of recent violence against schools in the country has been tough for many parents and students to make sense of it.

A shooting threat in the Kansas City area prompted seven school districts to cancel summer classes out of an abundance of caution on Wednesday, bringing the issue closer to home.

“It like literally almost paralyzed me because I just got done watching other parents go through the same thing and burying their children,” Melissa Phillips, a mother in the Blue Springs School District, said. “It’s just the realization that I could’ve dropped her off and not been able to pick her back up.”

It has been difficult for Phillips to discern what to tell her 15-year-old daughter.

“They still don’t understand. Even at 15, my daughter was like ‘Why would somebody do that? He doesn’t know me, he doesn’t know my friends.’ And how do you answer that?” Phillips said.

She says being able to have her kids safely at home was thanks to the heroism of the officers.

After some thought, she posted on social media to rally the community in finding a way to show gratitude to the Blue Springs Police Department.

“They literally got 20 pizzas together in an hour and 15 minutes," Phillips said. "I got donations from people — I paid some of my own money and we just brought 20 pizzas and drinks to show a little gratitude.”

Jessica Rowan, another parent in the school district, said it is one thing to hear stories online, but another when it hits home.

She is hesitant to send her third grade son, Zachary Byrd, to school in the coming days even while knowing the suspect is in custody.

“All I understand is that I should not be allowed to go to school if that is happening,” Byrd said.

Vladimir Sainte is the director of counseling and family support services at The Children’s Place. He says it is normal for parents to feel helpless, anxious and worried right now.

He advises parents to first take care of themselves, then have a conversation with your child and start by asking “what have you heard?”

Sainte also suggests correcting false information and only sharing age-appropriate details.

“Reassure them, we can’t make promises, but we can do our best of 'I’m gonna do everything I can to keep you safe,'" Sainte said. "And knowing, again, what regulations their schools have around this policy."

Parents should pay close attention to any changes in behaviors like lack of sleep, loss of appetite, irritation and defiance.

It is also important to know that addressing trauma early can prevent a lifetime of physiological damage.

“Long term impacts can be to where our children are not really feeling safe in the world,” Sainte said.