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Schools Should Keep an ‘At-Risk List of Students Who Exhibit Red-Flagged Behaviors’

Noted pediatrician shares smart fixes our nation should consider after the Florida high school shooting

It’s another day of shock and grieving for America after one more school shooting, one more horrific instance in which innocent lives of young students were obliterated in a few horrifying moments.

And what will America do? Something, anything, I hope. But let’s be honest: We are so divided as a country now that even if someone did come up with even three reasonable action steps, Congress would spend months arguing their validity — adding to our frustration and helplessness.

Who will be brave enough to actually do something about this epidemic of shooters in our school? Most likely parents, that’s who — parents who have had enough of the fear and angst they feel when sending their kids to school in the morning and worrying about something terrible happening to them. Today, I hope and pray, some concerned mothers and dads will begin a grass-roots movement to help keep our kids safe at school.

Here are a few suggestions I have as a pediatrician (and a mom and grandmother) about what we concerned parents can do.

Identify troubled teens. Healthy, well-adjusted kids don’t go into any public place and shoot people in cold blood. Every single shooting occurs at the hands of a troubled young man — not woman — who has a history of loneliness, maladjustment, and mental health issues, such as depression.

I see these kids in my office — and you have met them, too. Schools should have the freedom to have an “at risk” list of students who exhibit red-flagged behaviors of truancy, depression, isolation, or dark behavior. Much like the list TSA has on terrorists, schools should create a list of students who should be closely monitored.

Of course, the ACLU would see this as a violation of personal rights — but we need to keep our kids safe.

Encourage our kids to speak up to trusted adults about troubled kids. All parents can encourage their kids to communicate openly and confidentially to them about any troubled student. The truth is, emotionally healthy kids are savvy about identifying students who are troubled — and if parents keep up good communications with their kids, troubled students can be identified relatively easily.

Insist on armed security at our schools. Churches have parishioners who carry concealed weapons, and while this is a sad day in America, the reality is we are living in a violent world. Schools, like churches, are soft targets for deranged individuals who want to impose carnage, so we need to deal with this in a proactive manner. We must keep our kids safe, and the time has come when we must insist on armed security at our schools.

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Get real about the dangers of violent media — and get rid of it in our sons’ lives. Every single school shooter shows us that he spends time with violent media. While scholars debate how much influence violent video games have or don’t have over boys, let’s be honest. We know these games influence violent behavior, so let’s do something about it.

Speak out about the dangers of violent video games and refuse to let your sons play them. This is something we can influence. The games are vile — and we need to pressure those who play them to stop. There is absolutely no place for any young man to sit for hours on end shooting, maiming and violating women, men and children in cyberspace.

I am sick to death of excuses parents give for sons who close themselves off in private spaces to train their minds in the “art” of killing. We flippantly pass this behavior off as “normal” in young men — and then cringe when they carry out the exact same act in real life, and we act surprised.

Develop empathy in our kids. Killers lack empathy. They not only fail to feel guilty about taking a life; they find a thrill in it. When good parents work to develop an understanding of another person’s plight in the minds and hearts of students, those who lack the ability to do so begin to stand out.

Related: Hero Coach in Florida Shooting Saved Scores of Students

Developing a keener sensitivity and sensibility in healthy kids causes them to be more alert to others around them who don’t have empathy. Working to make healthy students healthier prompts positive peer pressure, and it can even help diminish negativity and anti-social behavior in other students.

Let us collectively decide that enough killing is enough. We can and must make our schools safe for our kids. We can’t wait on our politicians; we parents must take our schools back.

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of the book “Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need” (Regnery Publishing, May 2017), along with a number of digital parenting resources and online courses, including The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids.

(homepage image[1] and photo illustration[2]: [1] from the 02/14/2018 broadcast of Making Money With Charles Payne from Fox Business Network and [2] from Google Maps and the 02/14/2018 broadcast of The Story with Martha MacCallum)

meet the author

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of the book “Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need” (Regnery Publishing), along with a number of digital parenting resources and online courses, including The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids.

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