‘Trust your gut’: Students may experience changes after winter break in the Panhandle

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 4:26 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 5:32 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Students in the Panhandle are back in the classroom after being off for an extended amount of time.

As students are back, The Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center says there are changes parents should look for.

When returning after a break, sometimes there are changes such as new students coming in, new friend groups, new school staff, or children have access to inappropriate content during the break.

“Maybe the kids are going back into the classroom and connecting with a different friend group and this friend group influences their behavior and they now begin into more of a drug scene or they begin experimenting with sexualized behaviors,” said Shelly Bohannon, executive director, The Bridge.

Parents should be looking for indicators that something has changed.

“They’ve become shy, they’re no longer outgoing, maybe they’ve changed their friend group, they’re talking about people that we don’t know, maybe they’re talking about someone that they’ve met online, they might have spent a lot of time gaming, being in chat rooms,” said Tracy Morman, director of counseling and college and career readiness, Amarillo Independent School District.

Some other changes could be your children are dressing a different way or isolating themselves from you.

Morman says as educators, they are also looking for these changes as students are back in the schools.

“I think that we are just as important to be protective of our students, as the parent, we stand in that relationship, sometimes Monday through Friday and so we have to be the protector for those students, those parents drop their kids off and expect us to take care of their kids,” said Morman.

The Bridge says if you notice any changes in behavior, you should have a conversation with your child, using open-ended questions.

It also adds parents are the ones who know their children best.

“When you know something is different, something has changed, start investigating that, trust your gut as a parent and start asking questions and don’t just let it go, as parents we want to give our children freedom, we want to trust them, but when you know something’s not right, get involved,” said Bohannon

Bohannon says especially get involved with their devices because during the break they could have added more access to them.

She understands some parents may feel they are violating their child’s privacy, but getting into that device is how you are going to protect your child.

“If they’re not letting you have access to that device, they may be engaging with people who are soliciting them, trying to engage them, trying to meet with them, those are the first steps into a trafficking world, those are the first steps into a drug world, those are very, very risky behaviors,” said Bohannon.

She says that’s a road that no parent wants their child going down.

“That is every parent’s worst fear, so get into that device, if you can’t, take the device. That is just the beginning, that’s the beginning of the end for a lot of children, so that’s where we don’t want any parent to be,” said Bohannon.

NewsChannel10 will continue to have exclusive monthly segments with The Bridge regarding children safety.