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Psychologist On School Violence: Children Still Processing Trauma Of COVID Pandemic

WILMINGTON (CBS) - Some painful conversations are happening in many Wilmington homes this weekend - not only about the consequences of cruelty, but also being an accomplice by association. It stems from a disturbing video circulating on social media.

A Wilmington student is dragged into a bathroom stall and then forced headfirst into a toilet. Others stood by, watching, laughing, and recording on their phones.

Seeing a portion of the incident is triggering for anyone who has suffered bullying in their lives; and you don't have to be a Wilmington parent to worry about what our kids are dealing with.

Mass General psychologist Dr. Ellen Braaten points out that while adults find their new normal in the pandemic, she's seeing many kids who are still processing that trauma: two years of uncertainty.

"A recent study showed only about a third of adolescents feel like they're able to cope right now, post COVID. So, we have a lot of really stressed kids," Braaten said. "They make very bad choices oftentimes, when they can't describe what's going on in their inner world."

She said the best thing adults can do is acknowledge what the pandemic took from us, and also label our own big feelings and efforts to manage them.

"Sometimes kids don't really know what it is they're feeling. They just know they're feeling awful, and they act out in awful ways," Braaten said. "Toddlers may have a tantrum. Adolescents may do something really mean spirited or bullying. Often, it's because they don't know what to do with their own anxiety. As a parent you always want to normalize and validate their feelings. You want to have a relationship where you're curious about it what it is they're thinking. You want to ask open questions and listen and understand their feelings."

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