Texas governor Greg Abbott

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School Violence & Mental Health Connection May Not Be As Significant As Lawmakers Believe

July 18, 2018 - 5:52 pm
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By: Chris Fox

AUSTIN (KRLD) - Shortly after the school shooting at Santa Fe High School, Governor Abbott held roundtable discussions on school safety. One of his top conclusions was that early intervention was essential in Texas schools especially as it concerns mental health.

“It’s also agreed upon that we need more prevention counselors and intervention counselors. We also need better access to mental health providers for students.”

State Senate members of the Violence in Schools & School Security, Select Committee heard testimony from prominent Texas Doctors that the mental health angle may not be the best way to go in addressing school safety.

Dr. Clifford Moy of the Texas Medical Association explained how identifying the mentally ill students won’t necessarily put an end to school shootings.

“FBI studies indicate that most of those involved in mass shootings have not been diagnosed with mental illness but were reported to have experienced multiple stressers and/or demonstrated concerning behaviors.”

Moy told lawmakers prolonged stress becomes toxic stress and that can result in violent behavior.

“Research indicates continuous access to a trusted adult in childhood may dramatically reduce the impact of childhood adversity on mental well-being and adoption of unhealthy behaviors.”

Dr. Jeff Temple is a professor at UTMB and the vice President of the Galveston I-S-D Board of Trustees. He supported Dr. Moy’s position.

“Mental health is often looked at as the ‘Boogie-Man’ in these cases, when in reality folks with psychiatric illness, be they adolescents or adults, are way more likely to hurt themselves or be hurt by other people than hurt anyone else.” 

Temple also quashed other assertions that school violence was causing video games, or violence in movies or TV.

“There’s really good evidence that it’s not violent media…that it’s not this social media…That it’s not violent video games or film or music. We actually have really good evidence that it’s a few factors. One is the psyche of social isolation; this idea of experienced adverse childhood events…and a history of abuse towards women.”

Temple’s final advice to the committee was that we should not be looking for strategies to identify the next school shooter.

"We should be identifying strategies to look for the kids who need help.”