As I ache for the families and students in Florida after yesterday's shooting, I'm wondering about angry young students like the shooter. Obviously he was troubled since he was expelled from the school. Obviously he was a threat as noted by one of the young students interviewed. Why wasn't there better supports for a person like this?
What could have happened?
First, perhaps, if a child is a constant problem and threat at a school, the kind of problem that leads to expulsion, there is need for greater supports beyond the school level. Often these children and teens who are grave problems in schools have a troubled history related to family problems and developmental/biological concerns such as mental illness or other conditions. How can we all support the kind of community supports that help students and families like this.
How can we help people like this before they become a danger to others?
First, we need to lead and support our youth and family service departments in every state. There is good research as to how to help families and children, but often staffing and funding is too few to do the work well.
Next, we have to look at the ways that families struggle to take care of their children and help those families out. When you have children who face grave physical or mental illness, there needs to be greater supports. And when you have families that can't afford after school or before school care so they can work, we have to support that. Without those supports, cycles of struggle and trouble continue from generation to generation.
And, we have to better support education. In many schools services are too few for the many struggles and problems students bring to school. There are few to no supports in schools for students who exhibit mental illness, troubled homes, lack of basic needs, and need for after school programs. There needs to be greater supports in our culture for children in order to build a stronger nation.
I believe that our communities need to pay more attention to the needy amongst us and look for ways to better support those people. I believe that, in addition, strict gun laws will lead to less senseless violence.