Jared Loughner: What should colleges do with troubled kids? How much can parents and colleges work together?

I have spent much of the last week wondering if  Jared Loughner’s parents and the officials at Pima Community College could have done more – or if anything at all — to prevent the tragic killings in Tucson. I have been waiting for more information to come out about Loughner’s parents and the university before we talked about it. Finally, I am finding several good stories that give some insight into how much each party knew, how things were dealt with, how colleges in general deal with troubled students and how parents may miss all the warning signs.

First I wanted to share with you a bunch of great links to stories and some of the more relevant passages and then we can discuss. If you have the time (I know everyone is playing catch up from the snow) read the full articles. They are worthwhile and may give more insight than my quick paragraph pulls.

First some basic news on the story:

Update as of Tuesday: Rep. Giffords husband said he would be willing to meet with Loughner’s parents and doesn’t blame them.

“I don’t think it’s their fault. It’s not the parents’ fault,” Kelly told ABC. “You know, I’d like to think I’m a person that’s, you know, somewhat forgiving. And, I mean, they’ve got to be hurting in this situation as much as anybody.”

An early news story from when his parents first found out

“Sources told the Journal that Randy and Amy Loughner expressed a degree of shock in their discussion with the FBI, saying they were unaware of the degree of their son’s apparent mental problems.”

Now the big articles we really need to discuss:

This article from The Associated Press gets right to the issue at hand: How much should schools be telling parents about their kids if there is a problem? How much can they legally tell them (FERPA – remember that??) and when is it really a problem? I am pulling much of this story because it is really interesting.

From The Associated Press:

…With limited resources, complicated laws, more students in need of mental health help and echoes of the Virginia Tech massacre all part of the mix, schools face the conundrum of trying to create a safe environment without overreacting.

“What you’re really doing is deciding, ‘Where do I want to make the mistakes? Do I want to be over-broad in protecting civil liberties or over-broad in protecting safety?’” said Steven McDonald, general counsel for the Rhode Island School of Design and an expert on student privacy laws and campus safety. “And you’re never going to get it exactly right.”

McDonald said the pendulum has swung toward safety in recent years, but could swing back if schools overreach.

Many colleges and universities have started or strengthened threat assessment teams of administrators, counseling directors, campus police chiefs and others who meet regularly to field concerns about disturbing behavior and to investigate them.

But the issues are not always clear-cut. What should be protected as free speech? When does behavior cross the line from odd to potentially dangerous? When is suspension or expulsion warranted, or forced mental health treatment?

“There is a lot more awareness of the need to take action, but we are still constrained by considerations of civil liberties and the like,” said Ada Meloy, general counsel for the American Council on Education, an umbrella group for higher education.

“It’s not illegal to be a college student with mental health issues,” she said. “There are plenty of them out there. It’s very difficult to determine which ones merit being isolated from the college community.”

Studies show more students are arriving on campus with mental health issues. A recent American College Counseling Association survey found 44 percent of students who visit college counseling centers have severe psychological disorders, up from 16 percent a decade ago. One in four students is on psychiatric medication, compared to 17 percent in 2000.

Officials at Pima Community College, where Loughner was a student, released 51 pages of police documents depicting him at times as “creepy,” ”very hostile” and “having difficulty understanding what he had done wrong in the classroom.”

After five incidents that drew the attention of campus police — a rambling YouTube video that called the school a scam and associated it with genocide was the final straw — school officials told Loughner and his parents that to return to classes he would need to undergo a mental health exam to show he was not a danger. He never returned.

Some critics have said the school should have gone a step further and sought to force Loughner into counseling, which Arizona state law allows. But school officials have said their response was appropriate given the circumstances.

For years, many colleges said the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, handcuffed their ability to share information about troubled students with those who could help — including parents.

But McDonald, the privacy law expert, said FERPA is much less constraining than is often portrayed. A health and safety exemption allows for, say, faculty to share records with the dean of students, threat assessment teams or campus police relatively easily, he said. In 2008, Congress amended the law in responses to the Virginia Tech tragedy, making it clear schools would not be punished if they have a rational basis for taking action.

The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against persons on the basis of their disability, including mental health problems. But exemptions covering harm to self and public safety exist there, too.

“The law in these areas can be kind of complicated, and many campuses don’t have legal counsel or heavy-duty mental health expertise,” McDonald said. “So we’re being asked to do something that is really pretty hard.”

This is some really good insight into what a parent with a child who may have a mental issue is dealing with. The author does a good job exploring how may think it’s drugs – but their child is self-medicating their condition. Or with the parents they may actually seem normal and OK.  It is written by Pete Earley is the author of Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.

From USA Today:

“But news reports said college officials warned the Loughners their son couldn’t return to school until he had had a mental health evaluation. He was scaring other students. Obviously, that’s a huge red flag — if it happened. Federal privacy laws limit how much information colleges can share with parents. Adult children are exactly that: adults. The first time my son and I visited a psychologist, my son turned his chair so that his back was facing the therapist and refused to speak. He didn’t think he was sick…”

“Remember, having a mental illness is not illegal. Nor can anyone, even a parent, force another person into treatment arbitrarily. All states require a person be dangerous to himself or others. What makes Arizona’s law more liberal is it also allows a person to be forced into treatment if he is “persistently or acutely disabled” or “gravely disabled.” Would Loughner have met those criteria? I doubt it, based on my experience and given that a police officer stopped him the morning of the shooting and let him go without noticing anything alarming about his behavior. Saying you are concerned about shrines with skulls in the backyard or strange writings is simply not enough in most courts.”

“A 2009 study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that Arizona’s mental health services were grossly inadequate. The report was riddled with complaints such as, “When I first tried to get help after attempting suicide, I was told that I wasn’t sick enough to qualify,” and, “There is a six to eight week wait to see (a psychiatrist) as a new patient.” Most states are plagued by long waiting lines because legislators have closed state hospitals and stripped treatment funds to balance budgets.”

“Perhaps the most hurtful comment leveled at parents is that they should have done a better job raising their child. Would you attack a parent’s child-rearing skills if his son or daughter had cancer? Mental illnesses are just that: illnesses.”

“Blaming parents is easy, but before you throw that first stone, try walking in our shoes.”

I have been thinking about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law that protects the privacy of students’ education records, all last week,  and I wondered if the college had been allowed to share anything to his parents about what went on at school. And according to that article in USA Today, it was allowed and according to the online FERPA definition it definitely was allowed. I bolded the pertinent parts! (I guess like the AP story says the universities are afraid of getting sued if they reveal too much or it wasn’t really a problem.)

About FERPA:

Recently many questions have arisen concerning the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law that protects the privacy of students’ education records. The Department wishes to clarify what FERPA says about postsecondary institutions sharing information with parents.

What are parents’ and students’ rights under FERPA?

At the K-12 school level, FERPA provides parents with the right to inspect and review their children’s education records, the right to seek to amend information in the records they believe to be inaccurate, misleading, or an invasion of privacy, and the right to consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from their children’s education records. When a student turns 18 years old or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, these rights under FERPA transfer from the student’s parents to the student. Under FERPA, a student to whom the rights have transferred is known as an “eligible student.” Although the law does say that the parents’ rights afforded by FERPA transfer to the “eligible student,” FERPA clearly provides ways in which an institution can share education records on the student with his or her parents.

While concerns have been expressed about the limitations on the release of information, there are exceptions to FERPA’s general rule that educational agencies and institutions subject to FERPA may not have a policy or practice of disclosing “education records” without the written consent of the parent (at the K-12 level) or the “eligible student.”

When may a school disclose information to parents of dependent students?

Under FERPA, schools may release any and all information to parents, without the consent of the eligible student, if the student is a dependent for tax purposes under the IRS rules.

Can a school disclose information to parents in a health or safety emergency?

The Department interprets FERPA to permit schools to disclose information from education records to parents if a health or safety emergency involves their son or daughter.

Can parents be informed about students’ violation of alcohol and controlled substance rules?

Another provision in FERPA permits a college or university to let parents of students under the age of 21 know when the student has violated any law or policy concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance.

Can a school disclose law enforcement unit records to parents and the public?

Additionally, under FERPA, schools may disclose information from “law enforcement unit records” to anyone – including parents or federal, State, or local law enforcement authorities – without the consent of the eligible student. Many colleges and universities have their own campus security units. Records created and maintained by these units for law enforcement purposes are exempt from the privacy restrictions of FERPA and can be shared with anyone.

Can school officials share their observations of students with parents?

Nothing in FERPA prohibits a school official from sharing with parents information that is based on that official’s personal knowledge or observation and that is not based on information contained in an education record. Therefore, FERPA would not prohibit a teacher or other school official from letting a parent know of their concern about their son or daughter that is based on their personal knowledge or observation.

So lots and lots to discuss here:

How much should schools be telling parents?

When should they step in?

Should the school have made him be evaluated not just put the onus on the parents?

Could the parents have done more? (I don’t think we know all the facts here yet.)

Do you agree with the USA Today article that parents could easily miss these signs or be tricked into thinking all is well?

How will these stories and these events affect your parenting now or later?

217 comments Add your comment

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January 19th, 2011
4:18 am

My son is currently in the 10th grade and takes mental health meds and goes to counseling. When he turns 18 (still in high school , hopefully) I hope that he continues to both, BUT he will be an adult and has to make those decisions on his own.

College should be a place of higher learning, not a government day care for older teenagers. This shows again that college is not for every one.


January 19th, 2011
8:29 am

Active Duty Mom

January 19th, 2011
8:42 am

Amen, Paige as well. By the time a child is 18, they are legally considered an adult and are on their own to make decisions about their medical care. It takes hands-on parenting early on and seeking treatment when a child first starts to show signs of mental illness. It also takes swallowing your pride as a parent and helping your child to seek mental health care when a doctor or a teacher (or more likely, several) indicates that your child is exhibiting inappropriate behaviors and needs treatment. Been there, done that, and yes it is difficult and sometimes seems impossible, but it’s better than the alternative.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 19th, 2011
9:55 am

did I write too much?? offer too many sources??? why no discussion on this?? I am shocked. are people still just trying to dig out at work??? I thought the AP story and the Ferpa stuff was so interesting and The USA Today story really affected my perception on this — hmmmm…. thought this was good stuff


January 19th, 2011
10:00 am

The guy is a quack. 30 years ago he would have been in a mental institution. But we’ve done away with those and gone the meds route. I don’t think we need to change our entire society for the .05% of quacks that we’ve let on the street. Sorry.


January 19th, 2011
10:04 am

It’s not the schools’ responsibility to tell parents anything; we’ve had this discussion before and my opinion still stands that once you are in college and over the age of 18, you’re an adult. Even if you’re parents are footing the bill. They could just as easily stop paying the bills and it would the student’s responsibility. I think this is a sad situation but evidently even telling the parents and forcing this kid out of the school didn’t solve the problem.

Should the school have made him be evaluated not just put the onus on the parents? What do you mean? Force the kid to sit down with a shrink? It says the school told him he had to be evaluated before he could return. What else could the school do?

Could the parents have done more? Probably but again, we don’t know the parents. Had the kid been mentally evaluated previously or did they just think his bizarre antics were ‘normal’ b/c that’s all they knew. Do these people have other children? Certain if they do, they would have realized he had issues.


January 19th, 2011
10:07 am

It was pretty long TWG :) Did you see my note on yesterday’s blog (Crazy Chinese Mom) about the movie “Race to Nowhere”?

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January 19th, 2011
10:32 am

@TWG: For me, with two kids in college, I suppose none of this is a surprise. Both schools where my children go have FERPA releases that the kids can sign that allow the school to release information to the parents,but trying to actually use it is a PITA. My son, in a moment of a misplaced sense of adulthood, at first objected to signing it. I told him that when he was fully financially responsible for his education, then he was welcome to keep it private, but until then, I had a vested interest in the process. Whenever I call the bursar’s office at either university, I have to go through a run-around, even with a FERPA.

Even things like the dermatologist that my daughter has gone to since she was 9 — when she turned 18, suddenly the door slammed shut and even though I was the one paying the bills and they had known me for a decade. I had to jump through a dozen hoops in order to get records transferred to her university health services. Bills suddenly are addressed to them, not to me — and another doctor’s case, the bills ended up being sent to an old address and suddenly, we get a collection notice for a part that wasn’t paid by insurance that they had been sending the bills to an old dorm address!! I called them to fuss at them, and asked them why on earth they wouldn’t send it to his home address as they had for the four years prior, and I got the lecture on “privacy.” I gave them the lecture back on “do you want to get paid, or do you want to be right?” and had a few choice words to say about what would happen if my son’s credit was damaged (it wasn’t.) Even more frustrating was that I HAD signed an agreement that I was responsible for payment. GRR.

I think that, in most cases like this, hindsight is 20/20. When you look back, you see all the clues as clear as day, but when you are just living from day to day, you don’t see the big picture, because the little everyday things distract you. It’s an interesting exercise, to say, “Oh, we should have . . . “, but it’s a useless one. What happened, happened. There are many, many people running around who aren’t playing with a full deck, and as Arizona points out, that’s not illegal. And, plus, with the prevalence of drug and alcohol use, you can’t predict where the breaking point is. We know it’s irresponsible to smoke pot or drink alcohol if you are already taking psychiatric drugs. But let’s face it, people don’t always act responsibly — especially if they are depending on psychiatric drugs to keep their thinking straight.

And, as a parent, truthfully — at the age of the shooter, there aren’t too many parents who have that kind of control over a man’s actions. Jared Loughner is exactly my son’s age, to within a few weeks. My son is away from home for weeks at a time — I don’t KNOW what he’s doing from day to day, from week to week. We talk, we email, we text — but again, I only know what he tells me, and what I can read between the lines. Kids come home for a weekend, and it’s easy enough to slip into ‘child’ mode for a couple of days — they are adept at switching from “child” to “adult” when the need is there. In fact, it’s fascinating to watch — last summer, when he would receive a phone call from an “adult”, suddenly it would be sitting straighter, he’d be talking in complete sentences :-), and he’d actually sound like a grown up. Five minutes later, he and his sister would be squabbling over the TV remote.

I certainly don’t “blame” the parents. I don’t “blame” the school. I blame Jared. Playing the “blame” game is something that people do in order to makes themselves feel better, to try to regain control over that which is, ultimately, uncontrollable — another human being’s actions.


January 19th, 2011
10:35 am

This is off topic but just wanted to post that our county decided to cancel the mid-winter break in February to make up for the snow days last week.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

January 19th, 2011
10:42 am

what more should PCC have done? They recognized there was a problem, told him if he wanted to come back that he had to undergo a mental evaluation, and he chose not to come back. I think they acted completely appropriately.

Oh…and TWG…yes…too much info was presented to process.


January 19th, 2011
10:46 am

@TWG — I think there’s a fine line between putting a link to stuff like the FERPA rules and putting them in the blog directly. I don’t think there was too much, because if you had put the links in, I’d have probably clicked on them and read them, anyway. This way, they were all in one place :-) But then again, I read pretty darn fast. Slower readers may have been a little overwhelmed.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

January 19th, 2011
10:53 am

I’m a fairly quick reader…but at some point, it kind of read like stereo instructions and quickly morphed into the literary equivalent of charlie brown’s parents…..”wwwwaaa wa wwaaaa wwwaaaaaa”

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

January 19th, 2011
10:54 am

“at some point” was probably around the 29th paragraph.

Mommy Dearest

January 19th, 2011
10:54 am

You cannot BLAME anyone – however – we could prevent alot of the problems with kids today.

Let’s start with the school systems- in order not to offend anyone – everything is allowed and tolerated. The schools are so busy covering up all the corruption lately the kids are learning nothing. Need a NO NONSENSE approach starting with the way these kids dress. You will not get a job looking like a thug or a whore so the kids better learn how to look like young men and women now.

Parents – shut the TVs/video games/cell phones off! Kids are so electronically inclined they cannot even write! We have dumbed down our children in the name of technology. STOP MAKING VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES – STOP PURCHASING THEM FOR YOUR CHILDREN!!! They see so much violence they are numb to it!!! Stop glorifying this kind of behavior in the music – it is programming the youth to want to be like that.

We have medicated our kids since elementary school calling it ADD and ADHD as not to disrupt the rest of the class. We have nutrionally destroyed a generation with junk food and preservatives. We have not disciplined our kids in fear of DFCS.

Could the parents have seen this coming? Maybe, maybe not. We all have free will and you can do the best you can and just pray pray pray your child will “get it” one day.

We are guilty as a nation for the behavior of these kids. WAKE UP AMERICA!! Stop buying into this!


January 19th, 2011
11:09 am

Way too busy and too long for me to read -and quite honestly I don’t care about him or any of his conditions. It hasn’t even occurred to me to blame his parents or his school or anyone but HIM for his actions. He’s over 18 and therefore his mental health is his business. As a parent, you can certainly help, talk to your kids and try to get them help if you think it’s warranted after they’re adults, but colleges shouldn’t start calling home because Johnny and Isabella are acting strangely or in need of meds. Jared is an adult and he acted as an adult and he will be tried as an adult. He will either be declared legally insane and incarcerated in an adult psychiatric facility or he will be declared competent to stand trial and be incarcerated in an adult prison. Either way -he’s an adult and no one should have expected his college or his mommy and daddy to stop this or run to his rescue.

mom of 3

January 19th, 2011
11:24 am

@JATL – ditto

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 19th, 2011
11:50 am

Bummer guys – i was so happy to find good material on this topic and wanted to share. I had been waiting for stories on this. so was very happy to finally see it all being addressed. I get excited about news and was excited to share all the good info I found!! OK I will keep in mind for next time.

New folks to our blog please feel free to tell us your thoughts. Don’t be discouraged. I really do want us to have a good discussion about the school and parents’ responsibilities and working together.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 19th, 2011
11:50 am

tiger — i broke it into sections!! I tried!!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 19th, 2011
11:54 am

Tiger – I cut two other articles at the last minute — soooo be happy — maybe I should have left out the usa today one but i think it is really good too — good insight into why the parent’s may not have been aware — also good to think about it as a medical problem


January 19th, 2011
11:56 am

When your kid gets kicked out of school and rejected by the Army for Drug use, it is a sign. Do no tell me the parents did not know. They are far more guilty of letting this happen than Sarah Palin or any other talking head conservative ever was.

Ted Striker

January 19th, 2011
11:57 am

Glad, but not surprised, that Mr. Kelly is not “blaming” Loughner’s parents. You can be the best — or the worst — parent in the world and have no idea what your adult (or even minor) child is planning.

If Jared Loughner is mentally ill — and he may well be — then it behooves us to revisit the mental health care system. Not sure this is a parenting issue, although it’s discussed in a parenting type blog. Mental health is a societal issue, not just a parental issue.

Thank you for your effort and research and care/concern in the entire matter.


January 19th, 2011
12:02 pm

When I was in grad school a fellow transfered into the program. He had been kicked out of several departments in the university and was sent to us. Very intense, very big, no smiles. Carried a case like a gun would be in. Wanted to talk about narcolepsy in a education governance class. Not sure what happened to him. Think he was urged to move on again…

Let’s face it. There are many folks operating at some capacity out there with serious MH problems, addressed or unaddressed.


January 19th, 2011
12:02 pm

Despite the entitlement that society demands today, it is not the responsibility of any school to evaluate the mental capacity of students, day in and day out. Being this guy is an adult, nothing much could have been done unless friends and family saw something in him that could have been reported.

When children display violent and threatening behavior, then it is a parent’s responsibility to tend to the child, not a school.

OT, I long to see the day that schools get back to educating our public instead of babysitting them.


January 19th, 2011
12:07 pm

Jeff has a point. The problem is that there is not funding for adults with mental problems; many live on the street, many circulate (at high taxpayer cost) through our judicial system and jails, and many commit crimes. It is tough enough to deal with a child/teenager with emotional/mental health issues re school, medical treatment, insurance, drugs, risky behavior, crime. (I know from experience). and I can assure you, redhousecat, it is the parent’s responsibility, but there are not always answers/solutions.


January 19th, 2011
12:09 pm

Apparently this young man had some problems; however, if this had been a kid with another background (say from Atlanta southwest side), he would have been labelled a cold-blooded killer “criminal.” why are we spending so much time and focus on this evil kid and focus more on the victims; its no wonder some can get away with killing people in cold blood because the media and this society spends so much time trying to analyze a plain criminal who was out to get someone and didn’t care who he would take in the process. the media has already set up the “insanity case” much more or less for the defense attorney trying to figure out what mental disorder may apply; well, in my opinion, the mental disorder is a cold blooded killer who knew what he was doing; stop making excuses for him now; with all the problems tracking back to the beginning, someone had to know that the kid had a problem and it wasnt mental, it was hatred;
as for the subject matter of mental disorders, laws should allow parents to serve as legal guardians once the courts have determined that a person is mentally ill or incapacitated (unable to function on their own); that would resolve the over 18 legality (just my opinion) and then if the parents don’t have the power to do so, then we are all in trouble; they were probably scared to death;
last but not least, if someone can answer this question: if the father took the time to chase his son down the street because he had this so called “black bag” why didn’t he call the police; what prompted this chase?? was the black bag only used for certain things? it makes you go hummm?


January 19th, 2011
12:11 pm

DB you are totaly right about this situation. It was Jared’s fault. Our litigious society is so intent on blaming and preventing because people seem to want to protect society from all risks & dangers & the fact of the matter is you cant. As DB said, “this was Jared’s fault”. It was not the fault of the gun laws, the school, the parents, the ammo or gun manufacturors, the people he shot. It was totaly Jared’s fault and whether sane or not he should be put down like a dog for doing this. Nuff said.


January 19th, 2011
12:12 pm

re your questions list, I was told by a friend that if the school refers kids for evals/treatment, the county has to pick up the tab. not likely in today’s budget cuts. we might have started treatment for our child YEARS earlier if someone had clued us in. It was much tougher in the teen years, when peer pressure and the desire to be accepted is so great.

Always a Parent

January 19th, 2011
12:26 pm

As a mother of a 27 yr old son, who was diagnosed at the age of 17 with bipolar disorder….

First of all, parents never stop parenting. Period. My daughter is 26, an elementary school teacher, married with an infant, and she comes to me all the time for help/suggestions/input. It doesn’t matter that she’s not affected with a mental illness, parenting is parenting, no matter what. You only stop being a parent at the moment you stop breathing and your heart stops beating.

Secondly, as a teacher for NAMI’s Family to Family class, we have learned that when an individual has their first mental “break”, this is the age they stop maturing. And believe me, my 27 yr old STILL acts like a 17 yr old at times. That’s why you see the “immaturity” shining through some of Jared’s ramblings and videos. He obviously had his break back in high school like some of his friends have referenced his behavior before dropping out of school.

Obviously he has needed help for a long time, and as a parent, and seeing other parents who get hit with something that just wasn’t in the handbook that the doctor handed us at the hospital on “how to raise a child”, it’s obvious to see the denial.

I wonder when someone is going to insert the section about recognizing mental illness in their child in that handbook that the doctor’s give you at the hospital when you deliver a baby. Then I guess we can all be perfect parents.


January 19th, 2011
12:26 pm

You can read a lot of insight on drphil.com today from friends & survivors. Although there is NO understanding why this happened, Dr. Phil addresses the subject very well.


January 19th, 2011
12:34 pm

In my involvement with local student health centers at college campuses, I can assure you that many would be surprised at the number of mentally ill students on campus every day. In many situations, counselors tell us that these are students with serious and long known illnesses who have their care shifted from the parents to the college.

It is not a burden that colleges should be expected to absorb. In many situations, the parents are very tired, understandably so, with dealing with the issues associated with these illnesses. But, to thrust these students into the college environment with no warning to the school is grossly negligent. Many college students have issues with the freedom and responsibilities of college. Those who are already suffering from a mental illness present a much greater risk to themselves and the community at large.


January 19th, 2011
12:37 pm

Could someone explain why in this violent country that has a murder rate compared to third world countries(for example,Germany has a murder rate FIVE!!!,I repeat FIVE times lower than here),there is no requirement to have a psychiatric evaluation before you can purchase a weapon. Isn’t it a basic preventive measure? Also,I can’t comprehend when people suggest that the way to stop crime is to arm everyone. Why nobody asks this fundamental question:Why Americans are so violent?


January 19th, 2011
12:37 pm

QBE (1990s), Clinton’s Education Reform (1998-2000), NCLB (2001)…coupled with ADA laws. These ALL said everyone regardless of their issues should be treated THE SAME.

However we are not all the same. Some are tall, some are short, some are thin some are fat (this one has a yellow hat). YES Dr. Seuss…he got it! He CELEBRATED it. We are not all the same…I will never be an opera star or a celebrated pianist. It is likely not everyone here will be a Rocket Scientist or Brain Surgeon.

Now in the 1990s another phenom came to be social acceptable. “It is not my fault”. We decided that being a victim EXCUSED you from behaving in line with social standards. (Read “A Nation of Victims” it is eye opening!).

NOW we are reaping what we sowed. No personal accountablity…heck even TWG is quick to say the COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY and PARENTS should have done something. So quick don’t blame Jared Loughner! Sure he pulled the trigger but it was because someone should have done more.

How about we go back to holding students accountable (oh wait Mrs. Chau said that and got death threats!) back at earlier ages where the learning takes place. (MJG & Catlady I know I am not a teacher but isn’t that why pre-school and elementary school is so important…those young minds are eager to learn?).

I have said it before stop saying you are raising children and start realizing you HAVE children you are RAISING adults. Adults that will be held accountable for their actions.

@ Paige…100% on your side that college is not for everyone. Neither should everyone be in a public k- 12 class be punished by being homoginized rather than paced at ability. (BTW I have one of those kids who used to hold the class back. I got lucky and got the school to listen—hard won fight but she got held back just so she could be at her learning level…and now she keeps pace just fine.)


January 19th, 2011
12:46 pm

“‘Do I want to be over-broad in protecting civil liberties or over-broad in protecting safety?’”

So a guy posts an insane video talking about genocide, and everyone is aok with it? Way to go, America, you’re the best.


January 19th, 2011
12:53 pm

when a school refers a child it begins w/a long process of teachers evaluating, using strategies, etc. before a meeting is ever held to discuss the situation. you then wait months to get things going and if the lease runs out and they move elsewhere it is supposed to be transferred there, but you know how the govt. does things. parents also can be deciteful when registering @ new school. sometimes the initial teacher part isn’t completed during the school year and the next teacher doesn’t followup. so much can go wrong that the process is derailed. with talk of saving money by decreasing counselors in elem, problems could just fester.

i speak from experience of both sides. my children had these issues and i am a school system employee. when my oldest was first referred, we got our own psyc eval and the process was fast-tracked. so many parents haven’t reached the point of acceptance so early and/or have no resources for the evals that this usually never happens.

thanks for listening to my rambling. this is a long and difficult road for families and schools.

bunch of yentas

January 19th, 2011
12:54 pm

Everyone knows at least one person that they consider to be at least a little crazy.

I want to know more about what Jared Loughner believed. I don’t understand what he is talking about when he said that the government is using mind control to control our grammar. I mean, I know that whatever he is talking about is purely insane, but still, what does he mean by that. Control our grammar how? And what about all the stuff about lucid dreaming?

And I don’t believe for one second that he is sitting in there not talking. Crazy folks like this LOVE to talk. He is rambling on and on. I’d like to know what he’s saying.


January 19th, 2011
1:07 pm

Our society is getting more and more twisted. This guy is getting what he wants – mass attention and notoriety. Doesn’t matter if the attention is negative, its still attention and more than his “15 minutes”.

Colleges are a breeding ground for this kind of mental behavior. Young adults are just looking to fit in somewhere and their are more than enough loons out their that will educate him into “their” way of thinking.

I agree we have to do something to recognize the mental disorders that obviously exist in this country. Even basic personality disorders are the norm. It is hard to trust that you “know” anyone! We need to start with accepting PERSONAL RESPONISBILITY. If every individulas realized there are consequesnces, good or bad, or every action that would be a start.

Ralph Carlisle

January 19th, 2011
1:22 pm

I thought it was settled. All you have to do is not let them listen to Rush Limbaugh

Left wing management

January 19th, 2011
1:35 pm

The problem is already apparent in the framing of the question in your byline:

Could the Loughner shooting have been stopped?


Can all such tragedies be stopped ?


Can many of them be stopped ?

Absolutely. But to do so, we need to have a functioning mental health system, which we don’t right now. In my opinion it is no use blaming institutions like community colleges for not assuming responsibility for getting individuals who are ill to treatment when there is no social education and consensus to support that.


Completely disagree with you. This incident has nothing whatsoever to do with a desire for “15 minutes” of fame or lack of personal responsibility. This is an issue of how as a society to deal with people who suffer from devastating mental illnesses like severe paranoid schizophrenia and has nothing at all to do with the question of responsibility as normally understood.


January 19th, 2011
1:36 pm

Okay, first some thoughts here about the parents. I will take you back to Columbine for this. I heard many people blame the parents for that incident because the kids at Columbine were blowing things up in the woods and shooting stuff prior to their assault on the high school. I did those same things as a teen, but I never once thougth of striking out against anyone, students or teachers. We just thought it was cool to blow stuff up in the woods. Noone was going to get hurt (unless we were careless). What I am getting at, is this: How, as a parent, does one determine what is normal boy stuff and the makings of a terrorist? I ended up in the Marine Corps and now have a master’s degree and a successful career.

As for Loughner, I don’t know what his teen years were like prior to college, but I see so many youth, some firsthand during my time as a high school teacher, who are dark, say things just to get a reaction, and on the surface appear evil. Once you get to know these kids, you realize they are just out to get attention and would never want to hurt anyone. So how do you differentiate between those kids and the ones that end up like Loughner or the two teens at Columbine? It is very difficult. I don’t have the answer. I will just say, that we can’t truly blame the parents if they didn’t recognize these issues because sometimes it is hard to tell what is “just for show” and what is “for real.”

I do wish there was some way the school could have required Loughner to have had an evaluation, however, this opens up a whole new can of worms. And although I want Loughner tried and sentenced appropriately, you always have to fear that there will be innocent young people forced into psychiatric evaluations and have this noted on their records just because they are a little different but not truly a threat to themselves or others. This all goes back to, how do you establish who is a real threat and who is just blowing smoke to get a reaction. It is a very fine line and I truly wish I had the answer to it.

This all goes back to the question about civil liberties. Is it better to punish 100 innocent men in order to convict one truly guilty man? Or is it better to set free 100 guilty men in order to assure one innocent man is never erroneously found guilty? I guess it depends upon whether you child was the innocent one that was ostricized or your child was the one shot by Loughner. Perspective can mean everything.


January 19th, 2011
1:40 pm

As the former spouse of a mentally ill person I can tell you that even when you try to seek help the professionals treat you like a hot potato. Nobody wants you to end up in their lap. The first time I took my ex to the hospital (against her will) we spent 4 hours there only to be released with a prescription for xanax. On the way home she tried to jump out of the car while we were doing 50. Two days later we saw a counselor who described our situation as an emergency. Before that we had been told that it’d take 3-4 weeks to see a mental health doctor. We were offered a marriage counselor instead. After her (counselor) call we saw him the next day and my ex was immediately hospitalized. It took over a week of being treated like a pin ball to get help. This is the kind of “help” you’ll get in an emergency. And if you don’t keep pushing it may take a month to see a mental health doctor.

“What you’re really doing is deciding, ‘Where do I want to make the mistakes? Do I want to be over-broad in protecting civil liberties or over-broad in protecting safety?’” said Steven McDonald, general counsel for the Rhode Island School of Design and an expert on student privacy laws and campus safety. “And you’re never going to get it exactly right.”

This is something we need to remember also. To which side do we choose to err? We are humans and therefore far from perfect.


January 19th, 2011
1:41 pm

one other thing I will not–and you can correct me if I am wrong–my assumptions above were based on the parents not knowing about his youtube videos and such. Some of the things he wrote were definitely overboard. But many of these things appear to have been written after he was in college and considered an adult–a little too late for the parents to force him into counseling. How many of you know everything your adult childeren write and post online? Some of you may know everything–some of you may be shocked to see the pictures your 20 something year old daughters post online. The guys may post things just as bad, but fathers tend to not worry as much about pictures of their sons as they do about pictures of their daughters.


January 19th, 2011
1:41 pm

Can we take away the “blogging rights” of folks like Ralph Carlisle? Would it be a violation of his 1st ammendment rights? Seriously, when are we going to stop blaming other people for our own actions? I am beginning to think that “hate groups” religiously and methodically listen to conservative talk and have given people like the former republican VP candidate their fame so it gives them some sort of twisted excuse to play the blame game.

I think someone like Ralph Carlisle is mentally off for posing such crap.


January 19th, 2011
1:42 pm

woops–first line should have read “note” instead of “not”


January 19th, 2011
1:48 pm

“Completely disagree with you.”

Someone with the moniker “Left wing management” disagrees with personal responsibility and accountability. How surprising? :)

Always a Parent

January 19th, 2011
1:50 pm

@Tim…. I totally agree with you when you say that a parent doesn’t know if it’s the kicking in of hormones or if the child is really onto something else. And if they are just looking for a reaction and are really decent people once you get to know them.

My son was a junior in high school when he started exhibiting just awful behavior. I watched him and what he was doing and from what I surmised he was hanging out with the wrong crowd and even started hanging around known gang members in our neighborhood that went to school with him. I know that they were gang members because they kept the red bandana in their pocket and they wore red all the time. When I noticed what was going on, my husband and I decided to move our family out of that school district and closer to the church we were attending, hoping to turn his behavior around. Well, the behavior got worse very rapidly, which we found out later was due to the stress of moving into a new school environment. Needless to say three weeks into his senior year, we bottomed out. I called my mom who reminded me that bipolar runs in our family (my brother is diagnosed) and I made an appt with a doctor the very next day.

Life hasn’t been easy but at least I know what I’m fighting against every day. I didn’t stick my head in the sand hoping someone else was going to get my son help. In fact, I went to the school and had a meeting with all of his teachers, AP, and SRO before he went back to school to let them know what was going on with him and how it was going to be best to handle his transition back to school after being medicated.

Left wing management

January 19th, 2011
1:54 pm

Tim: “As for Loughner, I don’t know what his teen years were like prior to college, but I see so many youth, some firsthand during my time as a high school teacher, who are dark, say things just to get a reaction, and on the surface appear evil. Once you get to know these kids, you realize they are just out to get attention and would never want to hurt anyone. So how do you differentiate between those kids and the ones that end up like Loughner or the two teens at Columbine?”

By all accounts Loughners teen years were fairly normal, but by his early twenties he began a downward spiral that in the past year became catastrophic. By the time he went on his rampage, he had suffered a devastating psychotic break and was obviously extremely dangerous.

The Columbine case was a bit different. It’s generally believed that one of the two shooters, Eric Harris, was a textbook sociopath who was probably beyond any help, while his accomplice, Dylan Klebold, was a suicidal depressive who gradually under the influence of Harris became a homicidal-suicidal depressive. Had he gotten some kind of treatment and help, it’s possible that Klebold could have recovered and lived a normal life. Not so, Harris.

Raymond: The situation you describe sounds about as bad as it gets and it perfectly reflects what I’ve heard elsewhere. There are many areas in America – many of them not only not poor, but downright affluent – where parents of dangerous schizophrenic children are told by officials to “wait until you think they are going to get violent” and then call the police, which obviously puts parents, who are already suffering immensely, into an even more desperate situation.

Is this really the best we can do?

This is not a mental health system in crisis, this is the complete absence of a system.


January 19th, 2011
1:56 pm

The top story on AJC.com is a blog on news articles? Maybe I should save this link for the next time someone at the AJC calls me asking to renew my subscription after ending it two years ago.

Left wing management

January 19th, 2011
1:57 pm

ALH: “Someone with the moniker “Left wing management” disagrees with personal responsibility and accountability. How surprising? :)”

Well, ok, but not sure what it is about “left wing” and “management” that conveys what you say, but whatever. :)

Care to respond to the content of what I said?