Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Potential For Violence Can Be Very Difficult To Spot, Professor Says

Date:
July 10, 1998
Source:
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
The question has been asked in some form after every school shooting that has occurred in recent months: Why didn't someone see the signs that the child would do this?

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The question has been asked in some form after every school shooting that has occurred in recent months: Why didn't someone see the signs that the child would do this?

It's not a fair question, says Edward Taylor, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois. As a researcher of mental illness in children, and author of a recent article on the topic for the journal Child Welfare, Taylor notes that even highly trained mental health professionals would have had little chance of predicting those kids would commit that kind of violence.

"We simply don't have the tools to do that," Taylor said. "We still do not understand human development to a point of predicting violence. We can retrospectively look back and say 'Gee, this was a sign, that was a sign,' but it wasn't necessarily a sign."

"There were things going on in each of the cases that seem to indicate that these children, if looked at closely, would be in a higher probability of needing help with a mental health issue. But they were not flags that said 'out of all the kids, this kid is going to go and become an assassin.' "

Taylor, who is developing a proposal for a long-term study to identify predictors of violence in children, said he is concerned that school shootings will reinforce widespread misconceptions about links between mental illness and violence. Mental illness may have played a role in the various shootings, he said, but the vast majority of people with mental illness are not a danger to others. Reinforcing the perception that the two are linked can only increase the stigma that keeps people from seeking treatment, he said.

Only a small percentage of kids are going to have major mental health problems, Taylor noted, and only a very small percentage of those are likely to become violent. Adding to the difficulty in identifying and treating those few is that certain symptoms or tendencies that might indicate a mental health problem are even more likely to indicate only a learning disability -- which teachers are much more likely to be looking for.

Taylor said he's also concerned that schools and communities can overreact to the recent highly publicized incidents, and, in the process, hurt a lot of children.

Although schools could do more to identify students with mental health problems, they know that most kids' problems are situational and temporary, he said. "Schools are dealing every day with hundreds and hundreds of kids that go through hundreds and hundreds of situational crises -- and out of those hundreds and hundreds of situational crises, there's going to be a small number of people who are severely mentally ill who are going to get missed.

"But we certainly don't want a school system that every time a child throws a temper tantrum, every time a child says something aggressively, that they are immediately suspect of becoming mentally ill and violent."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Potential For Violence Can Be Very Difficult To Spot, Professor Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980710080732.htm>.
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. (1998, July 10). Potential For Violence Can Be Very Difficult To Spot, Professor Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980710080732.htm
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Potential For Violence Can Be Very Difficult To Spot, Professor Says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980710080732.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Science News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Flying (Oct. 20, 2014) Watch Gulfstream's public launch of the G500 and G600 at their headquarters in Savannah, Ga., along with a surprise unveiling of the G500, which taxied up under its own power. Video provided by Flying
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins