Last week a school shooting occurred at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Ten people died and 13 others were wounded. The suspected shooter was a 17-year-old student at the school. The father says his son was a "good boy," and he believes bullying drove him to do it, although this has not been confirmed. The youth is currently on suicide watch at the Galveston County Jail.

I’ve seen too many of these now, and I am no longer surprised when they happen. That’s sad.

The first school shooting I remember Beech Brook responding to took place on October 10, 2007, at SuccessTech Academy in Cleveland. A 14-year-old student who had been suspended at the time returned to school, where he fired a gun inside the school building, wounding two teachers and two students. He shot himself in the head, committing suicide.

Between October 2007 and February 26, 2012 (5 ½ years), there were 37 documented school shootings in the United States. Two in Ohio.

Then on February 27, 2012, there was the shooting at Chardon High School. A 17-year-old brought a semi-automatic handgun to school and fired shots at students sitting in the cafeteria. He killed three boys and wounded three other kids. One 16-year-old died immediately; two others died the following day. I was there right after it happened. Many of us were there, and we will never forget that day.

In the six years since Chardon, we have seen 125 documented school shootings in the United States. Four in Ohio. Chardon hasn’t even fully healed.

We all know that we have a problem. But the causes of the problem are not so easy to define. If you listen to the news or follow along on Facebook, you would think the issue is either keeping guns away from people with mental health problems or a lack of gun control. That’s a false choice. It’s both of those thingsandmany other things as well.

Often, discussions center around background checks, locking schools down, providing resource officers and arming teachers. But one issue seems to get lost in the conversation: providing behavioral health services in schools to the kids who need them.

We don’t know what the exact circumstances were prior to this latest school shooting and may never know. But it is a good bet that chronic stress of some sort played a part. We now fully understand that exposure to chronic environmental stressors (poverty, community violence – and we are a violent society – family dysfunction and instability) can alter a child’s brain development. This has a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn and to develop social self-regulation skills. This can impact children (and others) for the rest of their lives, if left untreated.

Beech Brook has been a national leader in providing school-based behavioral health services for decades. Our school-based services were designed to improve the quality of life for students who experience severe mental health, emotional and behavioral difficulties. The goals of the program are to help children and families thrive by promoting healthy child development and prosocial behaviors; improving school culture and climate; and empowering teachers to improve academic performance.

We know that early identification and treatment for mental illness works. But every time there is a school shooting in this country, I watch, listen and engage in conversations about the causes of and solutions to gun violence. There is quite a conversation for a week or two. And we waste that time talking past each other and shutting down people who don’t share our views. Providing resources to identify students who are struggling with mental health issues and providing professionals who can intervene rarely comes up in the conversation. The Santa Fe shooting may very well follow this pattern, too. And if it does, we will fail again to address the problem.

I know that Beech Brook does not have all the answers, but we do have one part of the solution…a very important part. It is imperative that children and their families have access to high quality behavioral health services in school. Children spend nearly as many waking hours in school as they do at home! The school, as an integral part of the child’s natural environment, is a logical base from which to provide behavioral health services – an effective measure that can to reduce violence of all kinds in schools.

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