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School security meeting's focus on psychological impact

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WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCIV) - School and law enforcement officials gathered again to discuss school security Wednesday evening in West Ashley. The focus of the meeting was to teach adults how to mentally and physically prepare for a traumatic event, in hopes of them helping children to better cope.

Student resource officers from North Charleston and Charleston and Berkeley counties brainstormed ways to handle violence in schools. Doctors from the Medical University of South Carolina and psychologists also weighed in on the discussion.

"If you noticed in the questions in there, they were asking a lot of what do you do with this? What do you do for a student who's exhibiting this sort of symptom? What can we do for a student who may not be ready to go back to school," said Andrea Jones, a psychologist and post-doctoral fellow at the National Crime Victims Center.

Jones says many times when violence hits a school, even adults aren't sure how to react.

"Adults don't know what to do. In the therapy world, I work a lot with children we call that having a 'purple face', its when an adult is uncomfortable about having a traumatic experience or doesn't know what to do themselves," Jones said.

Jones recommended talking to students about any school tragedy whether it affects their school or not. She also says having a plan of action also helps kids understand what will occur.

"Children can initially respond much in the same way adults would. So, that would be having more intrusive thoughts about whatever happened and talking more about it or thinking more about it or having nightmares about what happened."

Brendan O'Shea is the headmaster at Charleston Day School. He says he openly talked to the students about implementing officer into kids routine.

"I explained to the children, those police officers are here for our safety, you should feel comfortable and safe when you come to school. And, these police officers are here just to ensure that we can feel that way," O'Shea said. "Presented in that fashion I think our children have been very accepting.

This is the second workshop of its kind.

The first included a safety drill to teach people how to react in the event of an active shooter scene.

Officials with the Jewish Community Center, where the event was held, talked about their own security measures and how parents were reluctant to take part in the program before the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

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