America is preparing to close a deadly decade for public school, with children and teenagers slaughtered on school grounds at the hands of young, disturbed shooters.
Florida, unfortunately, played a lead role in this story. History will record the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting as the third deadliest mass school shooting since Columbine in 1999. Only Virginia Tech (32) and Sandy Hook Elementary (26) saw more young people and school administrators murdered ahead of the 17 lives cut short in Parkland in 2018.
We know why our schools have become less safe; too much access to guns and not enough access to mental health services.
These factors contribute to the rising number of threats by young people who intend to harm others or themselves, such as the teenage girl who shot and killed herself inside a gymnasium at Lake Mary High School this March.
But we’re not doing enough quickly enough to discourage another Nikolas Cruz from unleashing a disaster. Or, to prevent kids from harming themselves.
A powerful eight-month investigation published this month by the South Florida Sun Sentinel outlined just how dire the situation is inside our schools when it comes to managing emotionally disturbed kids.
The newspaper unearthed numerous police reports, court records and spoke to more than 50 parents, educators and mental health professionals to help answer a very tough and complicated question: How many other potential killers are simmering in our schools?
Here is the inconvenient truth: A lot more than you think.
A deep dive into public records across 10 major Florida counties, including Seminole and Orange, showed more than 100 threats to murder teachers or students, the Sun Sentinel reported.
These are just the threats we know about. It’s unnerving to imagine how many more go undocumented.
Florida took some action after the Parkland shooting. Legislators poured $70 million toward mental health services for the state’s 67 school districts and required more law enforcement inside schools. In addition, the Department of Education issued an unfunded mandate this summer for districts to provide at least five hours of mental health education a year.