school shootings
US schools need to recognize pupils' mental health difficulties to help prevent school shootings. Souce: Shutterstock.

Following the news of yet another school shooting in the US – taking the tally up to 18 in 2018 alone – Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said more needs to be done nationwide to identify students with mental health issues.

The Miami Herald reported Runcie announced hours after the shooting: “We have to do what we can to make sure we provide the greatest safety measures we can for our kids.”

Part of those safety measures, Runcie explained, is tackling the rising rates of mental health problems in the US which can lead to tragedies like this.

“What I’ll tell you is: Mental health issues in this country are growing,” he said. “And they’re a big challenge.

“And they’re something that is certainly going to need to be addressed within our school systems, as well as in the broader society —to ensure that these kinds of tragedies do not continue.”

Runcie went on to say identifying mental health problems is just the first hurdle; the students need more support once their struggles are recognized.

“We’ve got to be able to recognize individuals that are in distress, that have challenges, and be able to find ways to support them,” he said.

The latest shooting incident took place Wednesday at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 were killed and 15 wounded. The shooter is believed to be former student Nicolas Cruz, 19, who is now in custody.

Runcie stated that prior to the shooting, the school had received “no warning, no indication” any of the students would carry out something like this.

“You see typically in these situations there were potentially signs out there. I would be speculating at this point if there were. But we didn’t have any warning, we didn’t have any threats or phone calls that were made,” he said.

In a previous article, however, The Miami Herald reported maths teacher Jim Gard claimed staff had been warned last year about “threatening behavior” from Cruz.

“Every high school in this county has police presence at the high school,” Runcie claimed, however not enough is being done to prevent the events happening in the first place.

“We cannot live in a world that is built on fear.”

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