Saving our Children
by Andy Joppa
Another mass shooting of schoolchildren has once again rocked the conscience of America. It was, of course, immediately politicized by the ghoulish Left. Our “unifying” president offered his obligatory two minutes of appropriate comments, extending his and the nation’s sympathy for the horrid event. Then, without pause, changed his tone of voice and emotion, and launched his all too predictable “gun lobby” diatribe. Biden used every cliché his writers could put on the teleprompter…clichés that have been dismissed because of their absurdity over the entirety of the “right to bear arms” debate.
Our deeply disturbed ex-president, Barack Obama, in some stupefying twist of logic, equated the Uvalde slaughter of innocents, with the accidental death of the violent criminal, George Floyd. We certainly haven’t heard the last of this process, and “gun control” will become an increasingly prominent issue as we approach the mid-term elections. Republicans had best not jump on this absurd bandwagon or they will risk reelection in 2022.
Many desperate, but ignorant, Americans, will radically support the anti-gun themes of the Socialist Left. They will parrot the words of the media and blame guns as being the entirety of the problem as it pertains to the cause of these horrible acts. By so doing, they will ignore information, that if acted on, might serve as a significant method to end, or at least seriously delimit, these violent actions. Here, I refer to the abundance of information that exists that pertains to the causes of violent behavior, how to assess its existence and how to prevent its fulfillment. What follows will try, in this brief essay, to explore each of those issues…all surrounding behavior itself.
But first, I’ll deal with some self-explanatory numbers. There are 130,000 schools in our country. If we spent $200,000 on each school in year one of a program for safety, it would cost $26 billion. No problem there…if we can judge by unmonitored funds going into Ukraine. This would enable two security officers for each school and the rest going to harden these installations against violent assault. In subsequent years that could drop to $100,000 per year to fund the security guards…$13 billion each year. Would this work? Of course, it would. The numbers I’ve supplied, all very top end, could be adjusted up or down depending on school size…some having one guard, others would have three. Don’t tell me we can’t afford it…just eliminate all the pork and foreign aid and it can be done with no cost. This approach ignores, of course, the abundance of other soft targets…but our immediate concern must be the schools.
To compliment my obvious solution above, I will try to demonstrate how physiological, psychological, and life circumstance can enable us to detect and intervene on projected acts of violence. As but one example, and amazingly…aggressive, and antisocial children and young adults tend to have lower resting heart rates (-60BPM) than the average person.
The results show a clear correlation between low resting heart rate and criminal and violent tendencies. People with low resting heart rates were 49% more likely to be convicted of violent crimes than those with higher resting heart rates. I’ll not here advocate for the testing of heart rates as a mechanism to detect future violent behavior…but it is worthy of consideration and demonstrates the physiological totality of the violent offender.
There are two profound issues surrounding the ultimate expression of violence. First, thoughts of violence permeate the thinking of sociopaths and second, many of these tendencies are inherited. We know that there is a strong correlation between the violent “career” of the father and the then fulfilled acts of violence of the son. For those that suggest that this is entirely environmental (certainly a contributing factor), I would add that even when the child, for a variety of reasons, has had no contact with this natural father, the correlation still exists.
All the new research on the origins of antisocial behavior suggests that early-onset antisocial behavior in children with psychopathic tendencies is largely inherited. From this point forward, for brevity, I will use the terms sociopathy and psychopath interchangeably. They both are filed under the same umbrella category, as anti-social personality disorders. An antisocial personality disorder is described “…a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.”
These findings are in line with previous research showing that children with psychopathic tendencies are at risk to continue their antisocial behavior. The research has important implications. The discovery that psychopathic tendencies are strongly heritable suggests that we need to get help for these youngsters early on. It means that we might be able to treat antisocial behavior tendencies as successfully as other emotional disorders.
The violence largely attributable to psychopathy constitutes a substantial portion of the societal burden to the public health and criminal justice systems, and thus necessitates significant attention from prevention experts.
Yet, despite a vast base of research in psychology and criminology, the public health approach to violence has generally neglected to consider this key variable. Increasing attention to the individual-level factor of psychopathy in public health could improve our ability to reduce violence at the community and societal levels.
Social predators live in societies around the globe. Just like predatory animals in nature, sociopaths know how to disguise themselves. Common sociopath signs include a complete lack of both conscience and empathy. A sociopath snakes through life, causing trouble and turmoil with every slither and slide. We also know they are those who enjoy seeing other people suffer. In these individuals there is, now, not only no mechanism to stop their aggression, there is also a positive incentive toward violence. An extreme example of this is serial killers who seek out victims to enjoy the act of killing them.
It has been suggested that school administrators, teachers, social workers, and therapists, would benefit from knowing which abused children are most at risk of developing behavioral abnormalities in adult life and their familial tendency towards violence. Legal connotations include the attitude of courts to violent offenders who express the genetic defect and have a proven history of childhood abuse. On a larger community scale, the ability to predict criminally violent behavior could give rise to strategies implementing crime prevention—for example, electronic tagging of predisposed individuals, or even detention before the crimes are committed. Most of these are extremely controversial and I don’t necessarily advocate for their implementation…however…methods might be created where that could be accomplished.
Are there answers to school violence? Certainly! Let’s start by locking the doors and only having one entrance and multiple exits. That can be done now…it should have been done yesterday. We can invest in the lives of our children. See the numbers above. AND… we must start monitoring children who demonstrate sociopathic tendencies or…come from families with a record of criminal violence. This latter point will not require any visible manifestation. Just a higher awareness by school administrators and all adults with contact with these children or young adults. This circumstance is too important to not do what is possible.
An example that illustrates one of my points without proving it is…The grandfather of the Uvalde shooter, has a violent criminal record. That should automatically have created a monitor of his grandson…a silent monitor to be sure…but a monitor, nevertheless.