FRIDAY, Nov. 19, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Concern, worry, and stress related to school violence or shootings may be risk factors for internalizing problems among U.S. teens, according to a study published online Nov. 1 in JAMA Network Open.

Kira E. Riehm, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the prospective association of concern, worry, and stress related to school violence or shootings with internalizing problems. The analysis included three surveys administered six months apart among 2,263 students from 10 high schools in Los Angeles.

The researchers found that appreciable proportions of students reported being very or extremely concerned (38.2 percent), worried (31.8 percent), or stressed (15.2 percent) about shootings or violence at their school or other schools. Concerns about school violence or shootings were associated with clinically significant generalized anxiety symptoms (odds ratio [OR], 1.31; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.15 to 1.50) and panic symptoms (OR, 1.18; 95 percent CI, 1.05 to 1.32). There was no association observed between concern and depressive symptoms (OR, 1.13; 95 percent CI, 0.99 to 1.30) at the six-month follow-up. However, there was a significant association between concern with school violence or shootings and depressive symptoms for Black youth (OR, 3.15; 95 percent CI, 1.38 to 7.19) and non-Hispanic/Latinx White youth (OR, 1.62; 95 percent CI, 1.25 to 2.09). These associations were not altered by sex.

“This study highlights the need for research on interventions that can foster perceptions of safety at schools, prevent downstream violent behaviors, and improve the mental health of youth,” the authors write.

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