“Shooting at Sandy Hook School Report” Proposes Nationwide Psychiatric Surveillance in America’s Public Schools
By Prof. James F. Tracy
On November 21, 2014 the State of Connecticut’s Office of the Child Advocate issued a 114-page report, Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School: Report of the Office of the Child Advocate (PDF), focusing on the ambiguous profile of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza that may become the basis for mental health practices throughout the United States.
With contributors including psychiatrists and academicians from education and social work departments, the publication comes just two months after the US Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education announced over $160 million in funding for widescale research and deployment of mental health initiatives in the nation’s public schools.
“OCA began a comprehensive collection and review of records related to the life of AL,” the document’s preamble reads, “including his medical, mental health and education records, as well as un-redacted state police and law enforcement records.”(p. 6).
Among 37 “key findings,” the statement expresses concern over “siloed systems of education, physical health, and mental health care for children” that “strongly implicate the need to assist parents with understanding and addressing the needs of children with complex developmental and mental health disorders” (p. 9).
Mandatory mental health “screenings” and “evaluations” are recommended to remedy the potential threat of further “Adam Lanzas.”
The following is a summary overview of the OCA report’s key recommendations, many of which will likely be recommended or mandated by federal education and public health authorities for adoption throughout the US.
Universal screening for behavioral health and developmental impairments for children ages birth to 21.
Referral for thorough evaluation and assessment by outside experts for a child “displaying the types of multidisciplinary developmental challenges AL presented…”
Access to “quality care coordination” for children and their families.
Access to training and information concerning mental health issues for teachers, administrators, service personnel, pediatricians, and parents.
Staffing and financial supports for providers.
Effective and sustained family engagement work as part of mental health treatment for children.
Addressing of the “role of denial in illness.”
Access to therapeutic services, psycho-education, and peer support for families.
Readiness of “systems” to respond when a parent appears unwilling or unable to meet the needs of their child [aka refuses to medicate].
Better outreach to parents who have difficulties “reaching out” or feel “mistrust in the medical and educational systems…”
Active participation of schools concerning the mental health and wellness of their students.
Support to schools to enable them to “retain or import therapeutic and other related services…”
Evaluation of children by schools “in all areas of suspected disability, including conducting social-emotional evaluations…”
A more “holistic approach to identification for special education eligibility that encourages attention to multiple aspects of disability…”
State consideration of “an audit of existing homebound practices and procedures…”
More attention paid to “post-secondary readiness for disabled youth and young adults…”
“State and local educational and mental health and developmental services agencies must work together to identify current capacity and service delivery needs, training opportunities, and must create capacity-building services at all levels.”
Increased workforce, technical support and expertise to help meet the needs of “children with complex developmental or mental health disorders, and their families.”
Support for schools to provide and import “comprehensive health or developmental supports” to children with “highly specialized needs.”
In reality, the OCA report lays the groundwork for implementation of a nationwide program similar to the one presently being beta tested in Scotland, “Getting it Right for Every Child,” or GIRFEC. The GIRFEC project mandates assignment of a “Named Person for every child and young person, and a Lead Professional (where necessary) to co-ordinate and monitor multi-agency activity” that renders the traditional family to the role of a distant caretaker.
Using verbiage and notions remarkably similar to the the Harvard-affiliated and Newtown area psychiatrist John Woodall, GIRFEC emphasizes the development of “resilient” young people who are capable of developing emotional detachment from instances of profound loss–such as natural disasters and active shooter events and evident in the recent promotion of slogans such as “Newtown Strong,” “Boston Strong,” and, most recently, “FSU United.”
Indeed, GIRFEC advocates maintain the program “enables children and young people to get the help they need when they need it” and overall “supports a positive shift in culture, systems and practice … to improve life chances for children, young people and families.”
Such a project increasingly lays bare the opportunistic use and perhaps true intent of the Sandy Hook massacre event: dramatically intensified bureaucratic and quasi-scientific control over the everyday lives of children alongside the continued erosion of the family itself.