Prevent Violence by Screening Pubic School Children for Mental Health Problems

Yahoo Contributor Network
This undated identification photo released Wednesday, April 3, 2013 by Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn., shows former student Adam Lanza, who authorities said opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, killing 26 students and educators. (AP Photo/Western Connecticut State University)
.

View photo

This undated identification photo released Wednesday, April 3, 2013 by Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn., shows former student Adam Lanza, who authorities said opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, killing 26 students and educators. (AP Photo/Western Connecticut State University)

What big ideas can help America solve its most pressing problems? In an ongoing project, Yahoo News is soliciting creative, outside-the-box and possibly controversial (but still credible) solutions. Here's one about gun control.

Interested in submitting your big idea? Learn more.

COMMENTARY |Gun control in America is one of those topics we love to debate, and everyone always seems to have a solution of their own. From banning assault weapons to arming teachers, it's hard to change anyone's mind when it comes to this ideology.

But with two major mass shootings in America in 2012, as well as higher crime rates and gun violence in major American cities like Chicago, it's obvious that the system is broken somewhere. This is becoming the new normal, and one thing we can all agree on is that this is not the world we want our children to grow up in. We have the right to feel safe sending them to school or the movie theater.

There are two main factors here: mental health intervention and gun control. There's the argument that while banning guns won't stop the next madman, it will make them less easy to obtain. Heroin is illegal, but it isn't as readily available as say, aspirin. You have to go looking for it, and the thought process there is that would buy time for some kind of intervention by law enforcement before something tragic were to happen. Looks good on paper, but maybe not in practicality.

My big idea would be to mandate comprehensive mental health screening in the schools as part of the health requirements for enrolling your child in school. You can't register your child for school without proper immunizations, dental and vision screening, why not have psychological screening be a part of that? If a child is deemed to be at risk in these evaluations, or exhibiting dangerous behaviors, then they will be required to have an individual program plan implemented by the teaching staff at the school. Perhaps children screened in kindergarten, who show antisocial and aggressive behavior that wouldn't be on a typical spectrum like autism, can be worked with before their behavior becomes a dangerous issue. Checking in with kids in kindergarten, fifth, eighth, and 12th grades can follow them through life changes, chemical changes or anything else that could need intervention.

A better approach to the mental health of children growing up in a changing world, as well as some common-sense gun laws that protect the rights of every citizen, won't outright solve the problem, but it could do a lot for prevention so we don't have to become accustomed to daily tragedies.

View Comments (5)