The shootings in schools across this country are a national tragedy of senseless, irrational, madness. Please consider that all the perpetrators were lonely, desperate, and despairing young people. For one reason or another, these children did not fit into the mainstream of society. I beg you to consider that what you need to be arming schools with is better informed staff, teachers, and security guards, who understand the art of negotiation and additional counselors.

A check with the SD Department of Education reveals that we have 293.6 school counselors in our state. Based on 2012 data we also have 127,769 students. On average we have 432 students per counselor. A school counselor'€™s career is one of high stress and little financial reward. Yet they are expected to empathetically deal with social and educational problems. They are also expected to help students advance scholastically and to advise them on career choices. It is anticipated that school counselors will help emotionally disturbed students and refer them to the right source for help. It is ludicrous to believe that our students are getting the best counseling help at a ratio of 432 to one (1).

Our society is filled with troubled families. Children come from homes where one or both parents are alcoholic or drug addicts. They come from homes of hunger and neglect and from homes where abuse prevails. They come from homes that have a genetic predisposition for mental illness. The students who cause problems are usually loners that everyone ignores, judges, and condemns. Why do schools ignore the desperation to belong and kick them out or deny the problem?

Dr. Carducci of Indiana University has done a study on the eight young men who committed seven deadly shootings in the United States, between 1995 and 2004 and concluded that all of them had characteristics of clinical shyness. They were boys age eight to fourteen. At the end of his study Dr. Carducci concluded that these were children who truly wanted to be accepted by others but were rejected and bullied. Hurting and desperate they began to adopt a me against the world mentality and became preoccupied with guns and violence. Columbine, Virginia Tech, and New Town, Connecticut are only a few of the schools where shootings have taken place. In each of the three cases listed, the perpetrator was a lonely and reclusive outcast. These shootings did not have to happen. How many people, ignored and denied the signs? How many people looked the other way as these children were falling through the cracks? In the case of Adam Lanza, watching him cowering against the wall (news source) in school as a fourteen year old should have been a forewarning to teachers, counselors and other parents. Everyone thought it was someone else’s problem. Now it is the problem of the parents of the twenty six children who gave their lives because some people, early in Adam Lanza's life did not do their job. This is a travesty. He needed mental help from an early age and everyone failed him.

Children who fall through the cracks are the future bullies, and the future mass murders, unless there is an intervention by a caring parent, school staff and counselors. Our schools must identify angry, hurting students and help them. Give them a sense of belonging and a sense of community. Our government's knee-jerk reaction is to ignore the mental health issues and go after the guns. PLEASE consider that children need support, intercession, and adequate guidance. Not armed security guards and armed teachers. Spend the money on more and better counselors in the primary schools and give the counselors permission to do their job.

Adam Lanza, Kip Kinkel, Seung-Hui Cho, sent out obvious signals about their intent and no one listened. This is not the fault of guns. It is the fault of overworked, underpaid people who have an obligation to notice and intervene instead of denying and overlooking obviously needy people.


Evelyn Leite is a counselor with 28 years of experience in addictions, mental health and grief work. She is the author of 8 published books and numerous articles. She founded Living With Solutions in 1989 to help people learn how to help themselves.