Story By Dr. Marshall Bruner.


I recently met with a student who is struggling with anxiety and did not want to attend school. The student feels safe when a parent is around and safest when all the family is at home. I wanted to tell the student, “You are safe at school. Nothing is going to happen to you here.” Sadly, I couldn’t.

As of the writing of this article, there have been 288 school shootings in the United States since 2009 as compared to two in Canada and France and one in Germany. Source:

I won’t go into the number of deaths from those shootings, but suffice it to say that the number is too many. Add to that the number of people with physical injuries and psychological trauma and the number becomes way too many.

As a mental health professional, it is my job to help people, young and old, process feelings of anxiety and distress. In order to do that, I have to be hopeful as well as truthful.

I ended up saying to this student, “It is very unlikely that anything bad will happen to you at school” – which is, arguably, a true statement if you focus only on school shootings. However, add bullying, peer rejection, academic problems, etc., etc. to the mix and it becomes untrue.

While I would like to be able to say, “You are 100% safe from [fill in the blank],” I can’t say that now. In time, I hope to one day respond that “you are so much safer now than students ever have been because of the work we have done as a community, as a state and as a nation.” For now, my part in working with this child is to say, “Something could happen while you’re at school, and if it does there are people who care about you and are going to do everything they can to keep you safe. Your job is to be a good listener and to do what the teachers and staff tell you to do.”

It is my joy to be a part of an agency like Center Point where we are able to address troubling issues like this one and make a difference in the life of a child, a family and a community. Thank you for supporting our organization and mission.

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