Students in American schools are continually assessed and measured against prevailing academic standards. If there are deficiencies, remediation is urgently offered not just for the sake of the struggling student, but to protect the entire school from the punitive consequences of lower standardized test scores. Mental health issues, on the other hand, seem to be off limits yet I’m sure we’d all agree after witnessing yesterday’s carnage, that they can pose a much greater risk to a school, its teachers and the students. Suspension and expulsion are hardly effective interventions but alarmingly, this seems to be the sum total of the tools available to administrators.
Parents are equally unable to provide (or afford) the help their mentally ill children need. Oftentimes the best they can hope for is that their teen commits a minor crime that leads to short term, juvenile incarceration and treatment. It’s either that or basically keep their own kid under quasi house arrest where he can be continually supervised by a parent. (Isn’t that the situation the Sandy Hook shooter was in?)
Our local news did a piece last night on how the schools in our area prepare for a horror like the one we saw unfold in Florida yesterday. The answer was that they practice drills.
With all due respect, crouching in closets cannot be the answer. We must be willing to knock down the walls surrounding the issue of mental illness and provide schools, parents, doctors and police with the resources and the authority necessary to implement proactive, protective and ultimately productive countermeasures long before the shooting starts.
.Photocredit:The Daily Beast