Child psychologist weighs in on New London school arrests

New London

The arrest of a third New London school employee is a cause for concern for many parents and students.

“Middle school is an extremely tumultuous time developmentally where kids do a lot of testing of the limits,” said Hartford Healthcare Child Psychologist Laura Saunders.

Saunders says it’s up to the adults to set the limits and boundaries. And when adults breach those boundaries it…”Is very concerning for development,” said Saunders.

Especially for the child directly involved but also for other students who learn of the alleged inappropriate actions going on around them.

“It’s really important that we see our schools and institutions as safe places to learn and to be,” said Saunders.

Related: Teacher arrested amid investigation involving New London Public School employees

News 8 went to the Institute of Living in Hartford to speak with Saunders after a third New London school employee was arrested.

35-year-old Melissa Rodriguez is charged with Failure to Report as a mandated reporter.

She is a teacher at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School where Corriche Gaskin, a behavioral specialist, is charged with second degree sexual assault.

“I think it’s a good time to take this anxiety that might get stirred up and turn it into something good and increase communication,” said Saunders.

Jevon Ellmore, a paraprofessional at Bennie Dover and a Track Volunteer at New London High School, is also charged with second degree sexual assault.

Related: Second New London school employee charged with sex assault

Saunders says parents need to talk to their kids who are often emotionally closed.

“The tactic that I often encourage to use is to ask about their child’s friends,” said Saunders.

She says parents should reinforce what the boundaries are.

“What is acceptable behavior, what is unacceptable behavior, and who the safe people are,” said Saunders. 

Saunders also stressed the importance of being a mandated reporter which all school employees are.

She says you don’t have to have evidence of something bad happening. It can just be a suspicion, but by reporting it, it allows the issue to be investigated and also could stop it from continuing if it is inappropriate behavior.

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