From Men to Monsters
by Logan Kiester
February 14th, 2018, is a day that will forever live in infamy. On this day, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with an AR-15 assault rifle. According to the New York Times article “Death Toll Is at 17 and Could Rise in Shooting,” by Audra D. S. Burch and Patricia Mazzei, when the administration talked about Cruz they noted how he was a student that had caused concern among the students and staff. Cruz had been known to stalk a girl at his high school, yet it seemed to be known only by other students who forgot about the incident after he stopped stalking the girl. Evidently, there is something wrong with this adolescent that everyone could see even before he decided to terrorize Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The shooter deserves to be punished under the law, there is no question of that, but there is a question of what could have been done to prevent this from happening in the first place. The most abused answer that people provide is that stricter gun laws should be installed, but there is a much deeper problem that does not involve guns. The adolescents themselves who commit these atrocious acts are the root of the problem, and people should ask what could have been done to prevent Cruz from even thinking that murdering seventeen people was okay.
Parkland’s shooting has much in common with some of the most deadly school shootings in US history such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Virginia Tech. In all of these cases, there is a teenager or young adult who is considered “a loner” and usually has a history of mental illness and sinister acts. Men do not become the monsters they fear overnight. People usually notice something unusual about the shooters, but nothing is ever done to address their problems, even when these shootings are premeditated. The most important thing for young adults with violent, mental illnesses is that they are recognized and receive some form of help to prevent them from committing mass murder, whether that is therapy, mental health medication, or even monitoring them closely. Cruz had showed many signs of his intentions, and was even reported to the F.B.I, yet nothing was done to prevent his massacre. The school’s answer for his previous behavior was expulsion, throwing him out and giving him a target to channel his mental instability. The education system needs to do a better job at recognizing students with violent, mental health problems. There should be an entire investigation department that works within individual schools to locate high risk students, and help them. It seems extreme, but enough school massacres have occurred to where extreme measures must be taken. When individuals are classified as being mentally unstable in a violent manner they should be monitored through a student aid, while also having regular discussions with counselors about how and what they feel. These students should also not be forgotten after high school, but continually monitored. Administrators should keeping track of what they post on social media, seeing if they commit and crimes, and reviewing any complaints made about the former student. The former student should be monitored in this fashion until they have showed that they are no longer mentally unstable. Cruz showed absolutely no sign of improvement in his mental health from the time that he left Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to the day that he stained it forever.
There has to be a systematic way to recognize and give mental support to students who demonstrate concerning behavior within individual schools. If that involves regular counseling or the need for a student aid, then that is what must be done. If nothing is done then the school shootings will continue to happen. There is always hope to help violent, mentally unstable students, and prevent them from becoming monsters like Nikolas Cruz.