‘It’s OK to not be OK:’ Psychology professor’s message to students following school shooting

Professor Deborah Beidel said some students may feel anxious returning to campus Thursday

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole High School went on lockdown shortly after noon Wednesday following a shooting on campus, according to district officials.

Deborah Beidel, professor of psychology at the University of Central Florida and executive director of UCF RESTORES, said students will react differently to Wednesday’s school shooting.

“It’s OK to be OK. It’s OK to not be OK. And it’s OK to be OK now and not OK later,” Beidel said.

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Beidel said some students may feel anxious returning to campus Thursday.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if going back to school tomorrow, some kids felt a little bit of nervousness or they might be thinking or they may even have a startled reaction if they hear a car backfire because that sounds like a gunshot,” Beidel said.

Seminole High School senior Olivia Burke said her class was instructed to stand on one side of the room and remain silent.

“We go through this constantly and it’s just not fair,” Burke said. “I feel like it is so normalized. Stuff is constantly happening like this every day. So, it’s just kinda, I guess this is just America I guess.”

Beidel said following the school shooting, parents should ask their children how they are feeling. She said to get understanding if the child doesn’t want to discuss the incident immediately.

“I think it’s really important parents take that step. That parents just say something happened at your school today that could have been quite upsetting or it was upsetting. You were hiding in a closet for a couple of hours. Do you want to talk about it? And then respect what it is that the child says.”

Beidel also said it is still more unlikely a shooting will occur at your child’s school, so it’s important to not let the fear become too overwhelming. Also, in a time with social media and cellphones, she said people can become more anxious if they do not receive an update immediately or hear from a loved one.

A 16-year-old student at Seminole High School is in custody after a shooting at the school Wednesday morning, according to Sanford police.

Da’raveius Smith was arrested after officers said he shot an 18-year-old student inside a school building just before noon.

Smith is facing one count of attempted homicide, one count of possession of a firearm on campus, one count of firing a weapon and one count of disturbing the peace while interfering with school administration functions.

The victim was shot three times and was taken to a hospital where he is in stable condition, according to a news release.

County officials said the student charged in the shooting will have a court appearance at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.

About the Author:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.