This article was published in the Virginia Gazette, a Tribune paper, on April 28, 2018. It focuses on root cause of school shootings. It was presented to draw attention to true cause, as opposed to an earlier op-ed that focused on demonstrations, especially by young people with focus on the NRA as the cause of the problem. So wrongheaded and biased! Determination of root cause is absolutely vital in any problem-solving action. Demonstrations, as presented by the opinion writer do not solve any problems! The writer did present an emotional, well-composed essay, but offered no solutions. Principle problem cause is mainstreaming mentally ill on psychotropic drugs. Let's take a look.

Seldom do we read an opinion piece in our papers as well composed as the April 21 article, “Out of the Pain, Hope Arises in Our Young People.” I read it once to understand the writer's introspection, her emotions, and thoughts. Her reaction to school shootings was enlightening, sensitive. A second read to comprehend her stance on problem cause and possible solution(s) was disappointing. While it's compelling to support her disagreement with those who blame schools for their problem, her dismissal of possible blame of media violence and of any political implication, in her case “liberalism,” is not acceptable. Probable cause absolutely must be determined analytically and disciplined. When correctly determining root cause of any problem, that may involve legislation, it's imperative to consider political aspects. Unfortunately, neither the writer nor media nor legislators are correctly focused on analytical problem-solving methodology to determine root cause(s) for complex problems so as to develop effective solutions. Bias and politics prevail!

Analytical methodology forces one to clear the mind of bias and prejudice and deal with facts. All potential critical issues must be examined. Conditions before the problem arose, and after, must be assessed. Change is absolutely a critical factor. With people-related problems, it is critical to determine changes in them personally or in conditions which affect their behavior and their actions. It's critical to assess the personal conditions, especially health, of the problem perpetrators. Similarities of perpetrators case-to-case are critically important. Some problems may require urgent stop-gap control actions while root cause is being determined. And solved! To jump ahead of the method a bit, the school shooting is one such urgent problem. Provide immediate protection for the children while expediting root cause determination and correction. First-of-all, remove the nonsensical, criminal-inviting, “gun-free” zones. Start the search for root cause.

Guns are the weapons. Were guns new when school shootings started? No. School children had guns, even in their vehicles at schools, in past times. For sure, some guns are different than those many of us had, and some may be eliminated. But, the gun doesn't commit the crime. A person is the criminal. Why now, but not then? What's changed? A major, compelling, change is the mainstreaming of psychotics, even criminally insane, into communities after the Community Mental Health Act of 1963. An absolutely critical factor is the increased use of psychotropic, mind altering, drugs in the 1980s, with some growing out of the drug culture revolution of the 1960s. By 1996, 77% of mentally ill people were on psychotropic drugs. Virtually all are today. These drugs do not cure psychotic behavior, rather they suppress it, so long as the patient takes them. That's the key issue, although some sociologists and psychiatrists, incorrectly treat them as if they are curative. I've experienced this malpractice in a case I was involved with trying to prevent a person from being mainstreamed in our community. The person was adjudicated to be criminally insane and spent years in an institution. More important than these general data is the fact that all of the school killers, as well as most other mass shootings, have been by people on psychotropic drugs and go off them. It cannot be refuted that these drugs are a root cause of school shootings. No amount of demonstrations will resolve this.

While some will have doubt, it's reasonable to think that the preponderance of violent games, movies, and especially TV presentations, condition the potential criminal to become an active one. My many friends in Latin America are sure of this and many ban their children from watching American-produced television. Some will scorn this, but with 30 years of experience there I know it's true.

In summary, there is abundant evidence of root cause, the solution of which must be in dealing with the mainstreaming of psychotics and the over-dependence on psychotropic drugs. The myriad of violent movies and TV shows must be considered and, in my opinion, should be limited, but that alone will not solve the problem. Neither will demonstrations, even those calling for elimination of the targeted NRA, whether by adults young or old. If one thinks the NRA makes the legislators corrupt, you can be assured that elimination of the NRA would reveal the legislators to be as inept as they are seen as corrupt by the biased demonstrators. None show an aptitude for analytical problem-solving! Legislators have been urged to hire aides who are competent, but they don't.

So, while it's of interest to see young people demonstrating, until they focus on meaningful, doable solutions, any expectation for improvement is false hope.

Joe A. Mann, PhD
James City County, Williamsburg, VA
April 25, 2018

Mann is retired CEO and founder of The Mann Group, International Consultants,
CEO/owner of Mann Industries, formerly BASF fibers and yarns,
Former Corporate Director of  R&D/New Business Development for the former Burlington Industries. 


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