Cart before the mental health horse
Sunday Star - 4/9/2018
It was not the firearms that killed those innocent 17 Florida victims but the mentally disturbed individual who pulled the trigger. In addition to Nickolas Cruz and his automatic weapons, those who ignored all of the red flags of his disturbed behavior over many years enabled this tragedy to occur.
The school administrators, who swept this boy under the rug by expelling him without community supervision and sent him into further solitude and isolation to fester his rage can be perceived as most responsible for the murders.
The most guilty accomplices of this crime are the so-called mental health clinicians who failed to provide this emotionally disturbed youth with the mandatory in-patient treatment that was so needed.
His deceased, adoptive mother, due to her deep love of this boy, enabled his disturbed behavior by not facilitating hospitalization after over 40 police visitations to the home before she died.
Our government agencies, who are employed to protect citizens, are also most responsible for ignoring all of the social media postings and warnings from Nickolas and others due to profound incompetence.
Nickolas was a victim of bullies throughout his young life, and this form of behavioral cruelty provoked the rage and depression of this child.
Indeed, he was not a personable and acceptable person amongst his peers but where was the compassion of others to notice the pain and suffering that Nickolas was experiencing, especially last November when he lost his only parent who provided unconditional love?
His fellow students chose to isolate and ridicule him and failed to actively and loudly alert their teachers and administrators of this dysfunctional peer. Indifference and denial are the sins of those who failed to previously respond to this tragic event.
Are we only going to direct our political focus upon gun control laws, the believed explosive cart that the government and their constituents are targeting as the driven force that is responsible for these horrific deaths?
Gun control laws alone will not eliminate any further school massacres, but the most relevant intervention that will prevent the loss of so many of our children is competent and well-trained mental health professionals working in our schools and identifying troubled and disturbed children at an early age.
School personnel need to be properly trained, not armed, in the identification and management of emotionally troubled students. Anti-bullying programs need to be part of and perfected in all school curriculums with a focus on incorporating character development programs such as Character Counts with a focus on teaching and reinforcing compassion and kindness to others by students, teachers, administrators and, of course, parents.
Let's not place the cart of gun control before the horse of mental health intervention. Now is the time to act and not after we have another precious child die due to denial and indifference.
Dr. Fran White is a psychologist and therapist. She writes from Easton.