Local UT doctor responds to school threats - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Local UT doctor responds to school threats

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) -

In northwest Ohio, three different school threats came to light within 24 hours from Sunday night into Monday.

Lakota Local Schools, Anthony Wayne Junior High, and Waite High School all got word of student’s threatening violence against the schools, and took action.

This is coming just days after the shooting at a Florida high school, killing 17 students.

The horrifying images from Florida last week unfortunately aren't new to Dr. Lisa Pescara-Kovach. Her experience on studying what makes school shooters tick, dates back to Columbine in 1999.

"I feel that our students are becoming more aware 'that this could happen to me.' Rather than the, 'it could never happen here mindset',” said Dr. Pescara-Kovach.

Pescara-Kovach is the Associate Professor of educational psychology at the University of Toledo. She said the conversation on prevention currently is louder than ever.

"I would be lying to you if I told you that they all look different. We can't predict this, we hear that, there are a lot of skeptics who say there is no way you can predict it, we're not necessarily trying to predict, but we're trying to prevent,” said Dr. Pescara-Kovach.

She added, she thinks the more barriers put in place, the better, whether that’s ALICE training or metal detectors.

But, what really matters, she said, is identifying these students and getting them help before it gets to a point where they’re bringing a gun to school.

Whether it's issues at home, or at school, Pescara-Kovach said, it normally ends up being the perfect storm for students who carry out these horrific acts.

"We need everyone to sort of further look in to these warning signs and not be so dismissive so if we see something we think is suspicious, we have to report that,” said Pescara-Kovach.

Even the fact these local school districts were having a dialogue with parents about these investigations, Dr. Pescara-Kovach said is a huge step.

"Instead of keeping it quiet and sweeping it under the rug, they're actually coming out and saying yes, this did happen, but this is what we are going to do to keep your child safe,” said Dr. Pescara-Kovach.

She said, when a student acts out in class, instead of others joking about them being the next school shooter, the student needs to feel like things are going to get better.

Whether that is having a classmate sit with them at lunch or reaching out to them in the hallway, Dr. Pescara-Kovach said this is imperative, and can stop months of planning a horrific act.

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