Sunday, November 23, 2014

Apple Meet Tree

After a week where I was verbally abused, accused, and in turn laughed and complimented and watched kids play civilly with one another in PE you see the gamut in the urban school system.

Whenever I encounter kids who demonstrate the daily stresses of living while still being a teenager, I know that the family life is one of chaos or distress.  You see it in a myriad of ways - verbalizing, organizational issues, sleeping in class, hitting, and poor academic skills.  

Any time I say you want see what dysfunction is  watch the Housewives of the  Kardashians, as despite the script "ness" of the shows these are people who have no concept of order to the disorder that runs their desperation and neediness in the same way teens do.    

And to have this escalate to violence is not shocking. We have a culture that embraces it and the idea of owing guns and solving one's problems with said weapon is the matter of choice for many kids, regardless of color or economics.  The violence in the city streets is one problem but when you see wealthy children who live in suburbs have access to all kinds of services and opportunities who also have access to guns that levels the playing field. 

And to see the numerous shootings in schools, as in Marysville, Seattle Pacific, FSU (although he was an adult but he was an alumnus), from Columbine to well pick one... how sad, you see that it is predominately males, and the voices in their head were speaking to them for quite some time before opening fire.  

It takes a match to start a flame.  The media and the schools often contribute to this.  The Monday after the Marysville shooting, a counselor walked in to a class and said we need to make an announcement to discuss what happened on Friday.  I go what was that, lost the big game? She goes no, the shooting.  What shooting.  Hey I had been out of the country and had no idea so as she was talking I go to the Internet and at that same moment, another school, an alternative, located in the Seattle Center public facility was on lockdown as a student there arrived with a Molotov cocktail to blow up the school.  The role of the need to talk incessantly and the media onslaught has no doubt a contributory role in troubled mind and the need to seek trouble.  

What can I say except that he too had expressed a history of problems and threats of violence.  This was then followed on Tuesday of a death of a family other than a little boy who witnessed the crime when the Grandfather killed all the members and himself as his granddaughter had begun to tell others about her grandfather molesting her for years.  

The middle school, which is also down the road from me, went on lockdown in response to the shooting where she was a student there further complicating a school with a history of issues.  I do not go to that school as it full of deeply troubled children who admittedly lie about adults to not get into trouble or to garner attention, transfer pain, whatever reasoning they have to express what is within their troubled minds.  Which of course lends to the issue of credibility. I and other teachers have been victims of these sad children who will go on without the help they need in that school as long as test scores improve.    And this adds to the trauma.  Who in their right mind allows this school to remain open and not re-think what they are doing there is just another issue in public education. Denial is a street in Seattle too. 

So when the The Office of the Child Advocate in Connecticut  released its report on Adam Lanza it revealed a history of problems - from mother to son.

The report is 114 pages long and available here. The Daily Mail has this recap. Here are some of the more notably points I found in the report with my own notes above.

So we go on where we kick the can down the road. These are children not cans. Instead of spending millions on absurd education reforms, look at what the dynamics of the schools population are.  Then look to see what the schools need to at least offer an opportunity for sanity and security that they are not getting at home.

Here are my ideas.  Hot meals provided at breakfast and lunch and time to eat them.  Have Social Workers, skilled therapists of all kinds available, two teachers or one teacher and one instructional assistant in every classroom.   Cameras in every class.  Tutors and labs that offer extra tutoring.  Better physical education and more of it.  Later start times and in turn later end times.   Use the time wisely to provide a thorough but diverse curriculum so that all kids at all levels are getting what they need.  And use testing to determine that but let go of it as anything other than a measure of progress and establishing a base level from which to work.

And start funding education and compensating those who man the front lines.  The excessive bureaucracy and idiocy with school boards and middle management dominate most districts. That money could be better spent on what matters  - children.  

You are not your parents unless you want to be and there comes a point where we cannot remove all these children from them but why when the parents just need support and help too.  Clearly had Mrs. Lanza had that for herself that might of helped Adam as well and in turn all those at Sandy Hook.

You fall from the tree but you can also be picked from it and not left to rot on the ground. 

Recall the "diagnosis" of Autism.  Well I knew that was bullshit.
Autism Spectrum Disorder or other psychiatric problems neither caused nor led to his murderous acts 
This report raises, but cannot definitively answer, the question as to whether better access to effective mental health and educational services would have prevented the tragic events at Sandy Hook. It is important to emphasize that AL’s developmental condition and mental health cannot be seen as determinative of his extreme violent behavior.
An interest in the Holmes mass shooting in Colorado.  
As far as the Holmies go…well, the .gif of him dancing on a llama was cute. I guess that’s all I can say about the whole Holmie thing since I can’t really relate to it. I don’t understand why there weren’t the “he’s just a poor misunderstood puppy who needs help” type flocking around Jared Loughner since that spiel ostensibly applied to him more than James Holmes. And speaking more generally, I don’t really understand why Aurora shooting was considered such a big deal all-around, as if such a thing had never happened before. It’s not like its 1984.
Family matters - literally and figuratively. 
[I]n a 2006 interview with a child psychiatrist, AL stated that he attributed his parents’ divorce to the fact that they must have “irritated” each other as much as they irritated him.
The report indicates Nancy Lanza had some issues of her own. When Adam was in elementary school, she wrote letters to a friend (this may be  John La Fontaine, who previously came forward with emails or letters) in which she said she had a terminal auto-immune disease, was trying to make sure her children and husband would be cared for, but she was terrified. But her medical records don't indicate any life threatening illness:  In other words the mother was a hypochondriac with her own mental health problems. 

Despite Mrs. Lanza’s preoccupation with her health and concerns about her mortality, a review of her medical records from that time do not confirm a significant neurologic disorder, autoimmune disorder, or multiple sclerosis—the latter a diagnosis she sometimes indicated that she had. 
A medical record from her July 1999 neurology follow up indicates that all testing was unremarkable. The record notes that Mrs. Lanza was experiencing “significant stress in her life related to her husband.” Additional medical testing was recommended along with “psychotherapy for [Mrs. Lanza’s] emotional issues.”
 Interesting that while they are neurological testing her at god knows what costs you don't see that any point to a proper referral to proper mental health treatment. It was suggested but it appears again no providers communicated with each other nor had any proper conversation with Ms. Lanza about her health versus mental health issues.  The medical industrial complex cannot be ignored for their failure in this equation.
...There is no indication that Mrs. Lanza was provided a terminal diagnosis by doctors at any time. 
...a 2012 medical record signed by Mrs. Lanza’s primary care physician indicated that the physician treated Mrs. Lanza for over eight years, had seen her many times, and had “never noticed or treated any symptoms of multiple sclerosis.” The medical form also stated that there were no related medical conditions or history....nor [according to the family] did autopsy results confirm the presence of findings consistent with MS.
At some point you would think as the mother was running to the Doctor every minute that Adam would be as well.  Apparently he was also ignored for this.
AL was anorexic (six feet tall and 112 pounds), to the point of malnutrition and resultant brain damage....Anorexia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and autism are conditions that individually increase the risk of suicide. Anorexia can produce cognitive impairment and it is likely that anorexia combined with an autism spectrum disorder and OCD compounded AL’s risk for suicide.
After an exhaustive review of records, emails, and conclusions drawn by law enforcement agencies, authors conclude that AL was not obviously psychotic in the time period leading up to the Sandy Hook shooting, though he had a history of depression and suicidal ideation that can be seen in his emails during 2011 and 2012.
There is no such thing as the "tipping point" or that he just suddenly "snapped" another fallacy:
Authors conclude that there was not one thing that was necessarily the tipping point driving AL to commit the Sandy Hook shooting. Rather there was a cascade of events, many self-imposed, that included: loss of school; absence of work; disruption of the relationship with his one friend; virtually no personal contact with family; virtually total and increasing isolation; fear of losing his home and of a change in his relationship with Mrs. Lanza, his only caretaker and connection; worsening OCD; depression and anxiety; profound and possibly worsening anorexia; and an increasing obsession with mass murder occurring in the total absence of any engagement with the outside world. AL increasingly lived in an alternate universe in which ruminations about mass shootings were his central preoccupation.
 This was not spontaneous nor without planning (again read Columbine)

The attack on Sandy Hook Elementary appears to have been a purposefully thought-out and planned attack—AL did not just “snap.” He visited the school’s website on numerous occasions. He had looked at the student handbook and viewed security procedures at the school.
[T]here is no connection in the literature between AL’s developmental profile and an increased likelihood of violent actions.
Mental health is not the sole reason, explanation or reasoning for why:
The likelihood of an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or severe problems with anxiety and obsessive compulsive tendencies committing an act of pre-meditated violence, much less one of AL’s magnitude, is rare. Individuals with these mental health or developmental disorders are more likely to internalize (that is, to feel distressed emotionally or to be confused, socially inappropriate or inept, and sometimes to harm themselves inadvertently or intentionally) than to externalize (that is, to act out aggressively so as to harm others).
An obsession with other mass murders:
There is no way to adequately explain why AL was obsessed with mass shootings and how or why he came to act on this obsession. In the end, only he, and he alone, bears responsibility for this monstrous act.

We have a long road to resolve the matters of what defines a mass shooter and how to prevent such from happening. But the NRA has found that it is video games and being crazy the problem and their resolution is to provide everyone with guns.  Yes that clearly will work to have even more arms available to fragile individuals who are looking for ways to resolve the pain in their minds.   This is suicide by cop and by mass murder with mass attention.  They will not be ignored on the way out as they felt they were when they were alive.  Tragic. Grim. Pathetic.

More lives, more time wasted and the resolution is more laws.  That is clearly not working.

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