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Op-Ed

At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, I saw how the mental problems of a fellow student turned him into a killing monster

By: Kai Koerber, Student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Founder of the Societal Reform Corporation

Santa Fe, Parkland, and Columbine are all connected by one thing, the murderous acts of privileged white domestic terrorists.

In order to understand why gun violence in affluent neighborhoods is so prevalent in America we must first take a look at the signs of shooter-development in young students.

In the case of these events, we tend to see essentially the same kinds of students carry out these acts of terrorism, white students who have been outcast from seemingly every peer group at their school due to the fact that they are deemed the “weird kid” as a result of their abnormal and troubling practices.

The ostracization of these students by their peers leads them to dissociate themselves from their shared humanity with their peers, and turns them into monsters, monsters with the intent to kill anyone they had ever seen at school before, because in most cases these shooters view the general populous of their schools as one that has, overall, added to the misery they experienced in their lives, simply because there were too many people against them for them to make exceptions.

Therefore, in the eyes of these murderers (most often anyway), no one is exempt.

The task we, as Americans, have before us today is: “How to accurately profile and identify school shooters in a way that doesn’t provide the student body with another avenue for social ostracization if an error is made in the screening process of one individual.”

However, this task, if we were to undertake it today, would be all but impossible because we don’t have the mental health resources in schools to promote proper behavior amongst developing students, or to accurately intervene in cases of suspicion.

Ultimately, the only thing that will allow us to find success in endeavors such as these is the implementation of a diverse mental health care curriculum that teaches students how to deal with stress, anger, tragedy, disappointment, and the scourge of ostracization.

If such a curriculum had been put into practice in any one of the schools affected by gun violence, it is quite possible that these tragedies may have been averted.

My theory, is that we must reach young children early. The only way we will truly make a difference in this country, is if we actually “leave no child behind”; we need to provide every student, regardless of economic background, with equal resources to succeed, and the way we do this is through the passing of legislation that guarantees resources and mental health curriculum in all public educational institutions -- this would provide future generations of students with a larger potential for success, making it less likely that students will commit crimes, or acts of violence, because of their mental health training.

Under the provision of health care equity we must demand the implementation of a mental health curriculum in all schools, grades K-12, because states, today, are currently “preparing their students for success” while, at the same time, denying them the very success they wish to achieve through the omission of mental health training.

The notion that students can succeed without really knowing how to deal with the problems that will befall them on their road to success (a notion that is as much a part of American Educational practices as textbooks are) needs to be done away with immediately.

After the massacre at my high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, I decided to form the Societal Reform Corporation, a non-profit organization that will work to institute a mental health curriculum into public schools.

I truly believe that until we reform the minds of the people in this great nation, nothing will change.

We have to engage in a national shift in consciousness in order to pick ourselves back up from the depths of inequity and madness; because the circumstances under which we find ourselves, today, are so dire that the only option we have to stop gun violence, and the birthing of domestic terrorists, is to look within, and provide the mind of every child, in every school, with mental health training that will carry them, peacefully, into adulthood.

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