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Acts of violence by teens and kids on the rise, Clark County experts say

Mental health experts say they're not surprised by recent acts of violence on Clark County School District campuses.
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 8:24 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Two reported incidents of on-campus violence by students sent shock waves through Clark County School District last week.

The valley’s leading mental health experts say it’s a bigger issue than these two incidents. The director of Clark County’s Juvenile Division said Monday they are seeing a rise in local children acting out in violent ways.

Last week, CCSD police said a student at Legacy High School attacked an employee. They said the teen went into the principal’s secretary office, grabbed the secretary’s radio and started to hit her. The 17-year-old girl was taken into custody and faces several charges, including battery and damage to school property.

Before that, two students got into a physical altercation inside a classroom at Las Vegas High School. Video of that fight has been widely shared.

Experts say acts of violence like these, which can be circumvented by mental health support and services, are happening more often.

“I think when there is instability, it does effect one’s mental health, especially a child’s mental health. And I think that that also is ... not feeling safe. So when kids don’t feel safe, a lot of times, for many, ya know they tend to develop these reactions,” said Sheldon A. Jacobs, PsyD, LMFT, a member of the Nevada Medical Center Board and Vice President of NAMI of Southern Nevada.

Mental health experts said they are not surprised by the recent acts of violence on school campuses.

“This violence is a cry for help,” said Dr. Tara Raines, a licensed psychologist and director at Children’s Advocacy Alliance. “The kids are begging us to support them.”

Both experts mentioned that the uncertainty about daily routines, and also about the health of themselves and their loved ones, is likely contributing to this rise in violent cases. The pandemic’s residual effects, they said, are leading to more need for mental health support in the Las Vegas valley.

“The fuse is shorter because they don’t have the tools to manage this type of stress, to manage this type of trauma,” said Raines.

Jacobs, who also works as a private clinician, said his phone has been ringing off the hook.

“I probably get on average two or three phone calls a day, since the pandemic, of parents reaching out wanting counseling for their children. Prior to the pandemic, my phone was probably ringing once every couple weeks,” said Jacobs.

But he also said he sees it as a plus that more people are asking for help.

Both professionals reiterated that it’s okay to not be okay.

“Seek help for the kids. It’s not a reflection of your ability as a parent, on your ability to take care of your family to get outside support from the folks who are trained to support in these types of situations,” said Raines. “Reach out to your school counselors, reach out to your school psychologists.”

If you or your family need mental health support, you can call or text the number 211 to learn of free community resources. Additionally, NAMI of Southern Nevada offers a plethora of resources; as does Hope Means Nevada, a nonprofit that can help provide peer counseling as well.

The county also operates several Harbor locations, which are said to provide a “safe place for guidance,” specifically for kids and teens, with free wraparound mental health services. They also provide counseling, truancy prevention, mentoring, tutoring and more.

Experts also said that it’s important to educate yourself on how to recognize warning signs that someone may be struggling with their mental health. Some emotional signs include persistent sadness, drastic mood changes, withdrawing from friends and family, outbursts or extreme irritability.

Some physical signs include weight loss, frequent headaches or stomach aches, and poor performance, like if their grades are dropping.