Another Tragic School Shooting Who is to Blame?

November 30, 2021, brought news of a tragic school shooting in Michigan that left four dead and seven others wounded, including a teacher. Fifteen-year-old student Ethan Crumbley was charged with four counts of first-degree murder; his parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Ethan Crumbley attended behavioral meetings the day before and the day of his shooting rampage. According to Oakland County, Michigan, prosecutor Karen McDonald, Ethan’s parents were called to the school to discuss their son’s “troubled writing.” Ethan had been drawing pictures of guns and of people being shot. 

Parental irresponsibility, the availability of firearms and the failure of the mental health system to act before it became too late all become targets for blame. However, there is another element that is often overlooked—the psychological assessments and behavioral modification methods used by school counselors and school psychologists to treat the students they counsel.

Photo credit courtesy of Oakland County Prosector Karen McDonald

On the same day Ethan Crumbley attended behavior modification classes, a teacher found an alarming note picturing a drawing of a handgun and the words: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” The note also included the picture of a bullet and the words “blood everywhere” written above a person who appeared to have been shot twice. Below the figure was a laughing emoji with the words “my life is useless” and “the world is dead.”

The teacher reported the information to the dean and school counselors who subsequently removed Ethan from the classroom. For the next hour and a half, the counselors interviewed Ethan and, based on his demeanor, behavior and responses, concluded he would not harm others.

His parents were called to the school and shown the note. The counselors continued to question Ethan about his potential for harming others and confirmed, based on his answers, that he was not a risk to himself or others. His parents agreed. They were asked to take their son home for the day, but both insisted they had to return to work. Ethan returned to class. Shortly afterward he emerged from a bathroom and opened fire.

The Michigan tragedy raises questions about the fundamental validity of the behavioral assessments that have been common in schools for more than two decades.

In April 1999, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School, murdering 12 students and a teacher. Harris and Klebold had been attending court-ordered psychological counseling, including “death education” and “anger management.” After being told to imagine the circumstances of his own death, Harris wrote an essay that described his dream of going on a shooting rampage in a shopping center, a fantasy he made a reality.

Rather than asking hard questions about the nature of the programs at the school, Columbine sparked an insistence to implement school psychological programs even more broadly. Millions were subsequently invested in adding psychologists, behavioral services and psychological curricula in all schools.

School violence has only continued to escalate. Such programs have failed because they are based on the flawed theories of psychiatry.

To the psychiatrist, Man is a soulless animal not answerable for his own acts. Rather, he is a pushbutton, stimulus-response robot and only psychiatrists know where the buttons are. Such corrupt ideas are the foundation of nearly all forms of psychological counseling and programs that have been inculcated into schools.

It makes no difference who administers such programs—school psychiatrists, psychologists or counselors. They do not work and will never work. Why? Because they are based on opinion not science. Psychiatrists have no clue as to what makes the mind work. If they did, they would be able to resolve the Dylan Klebolds and Ethan Crumbleys of the world.

They cannot. Nor can anyone else who uses their methods.

Even more disturbing is that the psychiatric-based “treatments” meted out through school clinics often involve the administration of dangerous antidepressants. Prof. David Healy, an international expert on psychopharmacology, estimated in 2012 that 90% of the school shooters over the previous decade had been taking antidepressants. Harris was on Luvox, a drug known to cause psychosis, manic reactions and delusions of grandeur.

When a school shooting occurs the first questions should be: “Has he or she been subjected to unworkable or dangerous psychological-behavior treatment or programs?” and “Was the perpetrator taking a psychiatric drug that could cause homicidal adverse effects?”

We can no longer afford to rely on or continue to pour money into school psych-based behavioral programs that do not and will not detect and curb violence. Such programs must be removed from our schools.

Authorities must demand shooters be tested for violence-inducing psychiatric drugs. And psychologists and psychiatrists should be considered accomplices every time one of their “treatments” results in a crazed killer going on a shooting rampage.