Could stabbing have been prevented?
A recent article discussing the brutal stabbing of a UCLA student in chemistry lab has raised difficult questions asking why disturbed students are allowed to remain at school despite red flags and obvious warning signs.
Since Virginia Tech, campuses across the Nation have been working to identify troubled students and potential warning signs of mental illness, violence or other problems. However, identifying red flags and connecting the dots across multiple people (students, faculty, dorm advisors, mental health, law enforcement, etc.) can be extremely difficult and seemingly very complex.
- Students and faculty members said that the UCLA attacker had exhibited erratic and delusional behavior in the past.
- One professor notified campus authorities about paranoid and accusatory e-mails the UCLA attacker had sent to him.
- Other professors made similar individual reports about the UCLA attacker.
- The UCLA attacker also received counseling at the Student Affairs office.
Were any of these incidents enough of a concern to force the student into treatment? Had each of these dots been connected, could the stabbing have been prevented?
It may be impossible to know for sure, but schools could definitely implement more proactive steps to connect the dots. For example, school leadership should ensure that all faculty, school administrators, school security officers, school resource officers, counselors, parents, and students understand their roles and responsibilities for reporting suspicious incidents and behavioral red flags. Would anyone disagree that prevention efforts are more effective and less expensive than recovery efforts?