Serving Syracuse, Utica, Auburn, Oswego and surrounding communities

Statement on School Violence and Youth Mental Health

June 12, 2022

Recent mass shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, Buffalo, NY, and elsewhere across our nation are devastating. Gun violence is a public health crisis requiring immediate response to protect public safety. Policymakers and legislators need to achieve consensus, then act quickly to improve gun safety, such as background checks, safe gun storage, and “red flag” laws to utilize protective orders to remove firearms from high-risk individuals.

Psychological research on school violence since the Columbine and Sandy Hook tragedies has emphasized the importance of implementing comprehensive measures to detect and treat students’ mental health problems. Many initiatives also have been implemented to enhance student safety within the schools by improving responsiveness to physical threats. These measures have likely thwarted untold numbers of violent incidents.

Yet, much more needs to be done.

The Central New York Psychological Association (CNYPA) echoes the conclusions of a coalition of national researchers who study school gun violence. As psychologists, we are committed to, and well equipped for, addressing the following vital components of the complex, multifaceted task of prevention:

  1. curricular initiatives beginning in early childhood that foster emotionally supportive school environments free of bullying, harassment, and discrimination;
  2. adequate and coordinated mental health supports within the schools to work with students and liaise with community-based supports;
  3. culturally sensitive school- and community-based crisis intervention and threat assessment teams who train and consult with teachers and administrators within all school districts in Central New York.

The CNYPA is committed to offering our professional expertise to advance these objectives in partnership with local and regional school districts, mental health agencies, and law enforcement to enhance the emotional wellness of our children within our schools. We believe – we must believe – that together, we can make a difference.

Please contact Dr. Tanya Pellettiere at or Dr. James Mikesell at for further information.