Today we’re going to hear a lot of punditry responding to the latest horrific school shooting in Florida. Some may have even had their articles written even before this happened and are just plugging in the new details. The school shooting happened because there were too many guns. The school shooting happened because there are crazy people out there who should be locked up. The school shooting happened because of cell phones.
I have to admit that I checked to see if the shooter displayed any autistic symptoms, bracing myself for the inevitable witch hunt against autistic people.
There is nothing wrong with those sentiments, except maybe the cellphone explanation and the criminalization of mental illness. Let me add another wrinkle. Let’s talk about how schools handle kids with behavior problems.
Schools handle behavior problems by either expelling the students, placing them in horrible private programs with other kids with behavior problems, or ignoring the issue all together. Students with behavior problems are supposed to be handled with the same care and support that schools offer kids like my son who has autism.
Yes, I’ve complained about special education many times on this blog and in IRL. They could be doing much better in that regard, but if you know the system, special ed students can get what they need. Kids with behavioral issues do not have those same legal protections.
It’s obvious what kids like that need. They need therapy, medication, follow through at home, and a structured school environment.
All that costs money. And like special education, schools try to get the private insurance companies to cover those costs. Private insurance companies want schools to pick up the tab. Unless there is a parent who devotes their life to demanding help from both of those entities, nothing happens.
We can get rid of guns, but we also need to support students with behavior and/or mental health issues.