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February 16 2018

Could the Parkland School Massacre Have Been Prevented?

by Charlotte Hays

Roger L. Simon raises a question about Nikolas Cruz, who murdered 17 people and injured others in the Parkland, Fla. school shooting, that I have been trying to formulate:

Where were the adults in all this? Why was the youth allowed to have or obtain weapons of any sort -- assault or otherwise -- after having been ejected from school for violent threats? Why were his social media postings not being tracked by the police?

The kids all knew there was a problem. Again, where were the adults -- not just the police, or even the politicians, but all the adults? They didn't watch Cruz, who was clearly mental ill and clearly evil. They didn't secure the school, although there had been so many school killings since Columbine. They abdicated.

This sounds harsh in the wake of the self-sacrifice and heroism we saw in Parkland, but Simon raises a point that deserves to be heard. He ties the abdication of adults to the Princeton University incident in which a professor cancelled a course on free speech after students threatened him over a remark in class meant to engender debate but which engendered threats. The professor defended the students (as I noted earlier this week, he blamed Donald Trump for the students' behavior).

I want to introduce another aspect of the subject.

I'd like to see reporting on the family situations of these young men (and they are always young men) whose anti-social behavior goes on without intervention until it is too late.

Nikolas Cruz's parents were both dead, and he was living on his own. Obviously, Cruz's parents couldn't help dying, but I am wondering how many of these mass shooters come from intact nuclear families.

An intact nuclear family would not have been able to "cure" antisocial behavior but a functioning family might be able to see what was happening and possibly take action--likely institutionalization. Yes, sometimes, as we all know all too well, families failed but they were still society's first resource in dealing with dysfunctional human beings. This is less the case now, when struggling single-parent families are more the norm.

I don't want to get on a hobbyhorse in the face of a terrible tragedy from which we are all reeling, but might we at least consider the break-up of the traditional family as a factor contributing to these shootings?

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