“Taxpayer appropriations have been funneled into everything related to violence prevention and treatment but not into investigating psychotropic drug links to acts of violence. Funding has been a bottomless pit, yet has not brought about a commensurate decline in mass violence.”
With gratuitous and murderous violence being committed by the very young, CCHR says violence prevention and school mental health programs have failed. Teaching “character building” and providing “mental health” screening and treatment may be putting teachers and students in harm’s way.
By Jan Eastgate
President CCHR International
January 16, 2023
The shocking news that a 6-year-old shot and injured a teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia is resonating across the nation. This and the general rise in gratuitous and murderous violence committed by the very young needs a strong and effective and accountable response. Citizens Commission on Human Rights International demands local and state governments review the potential link between violence and school mental health programs in the nation. These agencies must also investigate the role of any psychotropic drug use by child offenders.
Mental health and “violence prevention” programs as well as mental health clinics where psychotropic drugs can be disbursed have been embedded in schools at least since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. But psychological and psychiatric programs arguably are only making matters worse.
In January 2023, a 6-year-old boy shot his first-grade teacher. There was an altercation between the teacher and the student, whose response was to choose to use the firearm he’d stolen from his mother and fire a single shot at the teacher. The youngster was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation and to undergo court-ordered mental health treatment at an undisclosed facility.
Newport News Mayor Phillip D. Jones stated in response to the tragedy, “It is almost impossible to wrap our minds” around this. “I do think that after this event, there is going to be a nationwide discussion on how these sorts of things can be prevented.”
However, we will be unable to “wrap our wits” around such tragedies without reviewing failed mental health “solutions” already put in place to “treat” the problem of child and youth violence.
There can be numerous reasons for senseless violence. Some child killers have terrible, abusive family backgrounds. However, psychotropic drugs and “mental health treatment” in schools and in foster care and juvenile centers clearly aren’t improving child crime. They are likely a pivotal point in helping to create the mindset behind the crime or to exacerbate it.
Consider other recent cases in the community:
- A 10-year-old fatally shot his mother when she wouldn’t let him buy a virtual reality headset. He had been undergoing mental health therapy for more than a year.
- A 10-year-old girl grabbed a gun from her mother’s backpack and shot and killed a neighbor after her mother had a fight with the woman at a barbecue. After killing the woman, the girl yelled “you shouldn’t have messed with my mother.”
It is unknown if either of the assailants had been taking psychotropic drugs. What is known is that there are more than 25 international drug regulatory agency warnings citing psychiatric drugs causing mania, psychosis, aggression, violent reactions, and even homicidal ideation. Read CCHR’s report Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence & Suicide.
Taxpayer appropriations have been funneled into everything related to prevention and treatment but not into investigating psychotropic drug links to acts of violence. Funding has been a bottomless pit, yet has not brought about a commensurate decline in mass violence.
For example, in Virginia, where the shooting by the 6-year-old occurred, funding has included:
- School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Program; The Youth Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (YSBIRT); The Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools Program—with federal grants of up to $6.8 million through 2025.
- Virginia’s General Assembly allocated $2.5 million in FY23 to begin supporting school-based mental health services.
- The Virginia Partnership for School Mental Health announced that it aims to strengthen school mental health services by creating an inter-professional network of school mental health practitioners. It also plans to connect graduate students training to become school mental health professionals to K-12 school divisions in their regions.
- State law requires character development or social and emotional learning in schools.
CCHR warned against this path in 1999 when it testified before a Colorado government Ad Hoc Committee Hearing into psychiatric drugs creating violence in schools. CCHR exposed how antidepressants and psychological “death education” programs in the school had contributed to teens Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killing 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School, before killing themselves. Both shooters had been in anger management classes and had undergone counseling. Harris had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting. He was taking the SSRI antidepressant Luvox, a drug documented to cause violent and suicidal effects. During clinical trials of Luvox, children developed mania, described as a “form of psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur…and overproduction of ideas.”
Between 1988 and 1992, there were reports of 90 children and adolescents who had suffered suicidal or violent self-destructive behavior while taking the SSRI antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine). The Food and Drug Administration’s own adverse drug reaction reports revealed that a 12-year-old suffered hostility and confusion, was violent, and became “glassy-eyed” on the drug.
Colorado State Rep. Penn Pfiffner, who chaired the hearing, stated: “There is enough coincidence and enough professional opinion from legitimate scientists to cause us to raise the issue and to ask further questions.” To do otherwise, “we as legislators aren’t doing our job.”
Working with Patricia Johnson, then-member of the Colorado State Board of Education, CCHR helped obtain a precedent-setting resolution that called on teachers to use academics rather than drug solutions for behavior, attention, and learning difficulties in the classroom.
States ignoring this have done so at their own peril. Since 2000, there have been at least 27 acts of mass violence in schools committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs or having undergone unnamed mental health treatment, resulting in 33 deaths and 83 wounded. At least seven of the killings involved stabbings. Something drove them to kill.
Despite all its investments in mental health and “character and emotional building” in schools, Virginia has seen some of the worst examples of school violence:
- In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho, 23, committed a massacre at Virginia Tech University’s campus, killing 32 students and instructors in two separate attacks before killing himself. Cho had previously been admitted to a psychiatric ward for suicidal tendencies. He also took an antidepressant from 1999 to 2000. While at Virginia Tech, he did several telephone “triage” sessions with a licensed professional counselor and a psychologist at Cook Counseling Center where information was collected regarding what level of mental health intervention may be needed.
- On November 13, 2022, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, a University of Virginia (UVA) student and former member of its football team, opened fire on a bus of fellow students returning from a field trip, killing three and injuring two. “He was always a calm person, and he was looking out for his grandma,” said a neighbor. “Something had to trigger him.” At the time of his arrest for the current offenses, Jones had outstanding warrants for hit-and-run and reckless driving in Petersburg, Virginia.
No Science to School Mental Health Programs
Criticism of mental health programs in schools has raged for years.
In March 1998, Andrew Golden, 11, and his cousin Mitchell Johnson, 13, sounded the alarm at Westside Middle School in Arkansas, prompting students and teachers to crowd into the courtyard. Then the two boys opened fire, randomly shooting at their victims, killing four students and one teacher. Arkansas was one of the first states in America to introduce psychology-influenced Outcome-Based Education (OBE), which by 1987 was firmly in place. Part of the (OBE) package of techniques introduced into the classroom included: sensitivity training groups (known as T-groups), encounter groups, self-esteem training, moral reasoning, conflict resolution, and critical thinking, to name a few. They were mental techniques designed to modify behavior yet could cause confusion and disorientation. These techniques are based on opinions about behavior, not science.
Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center, an expert on the subject of OBE, told a Washington, D.C. press conference in 1995, about a 9-year-old boy who “…told his mother that he ranked lumberjacks in the same class as murderers and bigots.” DeWeese said “psychologically-based programs are harming children” and that “OBE is not education, it’s mind control from womb to tomb.”
Nationwide, education departments being advised by mental health professionals have increased funding to and implementation of mental health screening and psychology-based programs, rather than adopting the Colorado resolution recommendation.
Creating a Callous Mindset
As the recent shootings show, the mindset of these young children is chillingly irresponsible. In addition to understanding the child’s home life, these beg questions about what teachers may be mandated to teach in schools that could be unwittingly causing harm. Police should also investigate this with regard to the recent cases.
Further information on the 10-year-olds, includes:
- 21 November 2022, Milwaukee, Wisconsin: The 10-year-old who fatally shot his mother, Quiana Mann, herself a behavioral healthcare worker, told police he was upset that she wouldn’t let him buy a virtual reality headset on Amazon. Just a day later, the boy went online and bought an Oculus Virtual Reality Headset on his dead mother’s Amazon account and even asked his grandmother whether his package had arrived, according to the criminal complaint. According to the police complaint about the murder, the boy went to the basement and took up a shooting stance. He admitted he “shot her in the face when she was approximately three feet away.” On December 1, he was charged as an adult with first-degree reckless homicide. The boy had been undergoing therapy for more than a year before the shooting. Clearly, this failed to prevent the tragedy.
- May 30, 2022, Orlando, Florida: a 10-year-old girl shot and killed Lashun Rodgers, a woman with whom her mother had been involved in a fight. The child’s mother, Lakrisha Isaac, had handed her daughter a bag containing a gun. Investigators said the 10-year-old took out the gun and fired two rounds, killing Rodgers. Isaac was arrested shortly after the incident happened. After shooting Rodgers, the girl yelled, “you shouldn’t have messed with my mother.” The young girl, who was charged with second degree murder, was placed in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
CCHR has been documenting similar inexplicable violent acts for decades. The following case was included in a report CCHR sent to every state and federal legislator in the late 1990s:
- In 1996, Timmy Becton, 10, grabbed his three-year-old niece as a shield and aimed a shotgun at a Florida sheriff’s deputy. Becton had seen a psychiatrist to cure his dislike of school and was put on Prozac. His parents said that when the dosage of the drug was increased, Timmy had violent mood swings and would “get really angry….” He was charged as an adult with armed kidnapping and threatening a deputy officer and was convicted in 1996.
Subsequent cases include:
- Barry Dale Loukaitis was a 14-year-old student at Frontier Middle School in Washington in February 1996 when he shot and killed his algebra teacher and two students. He then held the class hostage for an hour until a gym teacher showed up, tackled Loukaitis to the ground, and helped students escape. Loukaitis had a disturbing home life. He worried about his mother, who threatened to commit suicide numerous times. Barry had also been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and prescribed the powerful stimulant drug Ritalin. He developed an obsession with guns, would often look at weaponry magazines, and began writing violent poems about murder.
- In October 2009, 15-year-old Alyssa Bustamante stabbed and strangled a 9-year-old girl, Elizabeth Olten, in St. Martins, Missouri because “she wanted to know how it felt to kill someone.” She then threw the girl’s body under a pile of leaves in a nearby forest. Between 2002 and 2009, Bustamante was raised by her grandparents. Her mother had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, which led to criminal charges and jail time. Her father was serving jail time for assault. Under her grandparents’ care, she regularly attended church and participated in several youth activities. But in 2007, Alyssa tried to kill herself. She spent 10 days at a psychiatric hospital in St. Martins and started taking antidepressants. Despite her medication, Alyssa practiced cutting herself several times. Friends said she frequently showed them the scars on her wrists. “Well, she was obviously on the antidepressants,” a friend told the media. “We always would go upstairs and she’d be like, ‘Oh I need to take my medicine.’” She then listed her hobbies on YouTube and MySpace as “killing people” and “cutting.”
In her diary, she wrote:
“I just f*****g killed someone. I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them, now they’re dead. I don’t know how to feel atm [at the moment]. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the ‘ohmygawd I can’t do this’ feeling, it’s pretty enjoyable.”
One of the hospitals where Alyssa was treated was Pathways Behavioral Healthcare.
- On Valentine’s Day in 2018, Nikolas Cruz, 19, went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, pulled an AR-15 from a black duffle bag, and began gunning down former classmates and teachers, killing at least 17 people and injuring 15 others. He’d been in the hands of one or another psychotherapist since the age of four. At age 6, he started psychiatric treatment and was prescribed drugs to treat “ADHD.” He was given numerous diagnoses, none of which opened the door to workable or effective mental health treatment, which included antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs. At school, he was given multiple “functional behavioral assessments.” Years before the killings a school mental health expert report revealed “Nikolas will find any excuse to bring up guns.” Police were called to his home 36 times, yet a therapist with the clinic deemed the boy “to be no threat to anyone or himself” in 2016. Over nine years, Cruz received hundreds of hours of therapy sessions from this clinic. In 2017, he’d undergone a school “threat assessment.” That still didn’t flag him as a potential killer. Ten days after his last visit with one psychiatrist Cruz left a message on his YouTube channel that read, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” Not five months later, he did exactly that.
- In November 2021, four students were killed and seven others injured in an Oxford High School, Michigan, shooting. The alleged 15-year-old perpetrator had undergone behavioral meetings only the day before and on the day of the shootings, yet was allowed to return to school. “At no time did counselors believe the student might harm others based on his behavior, responses and demeanor, which appeared calm.” Yet “counselors asked specific probing questions regarding the potential for self-harm or harm to others,” a Superintendent said.
Oust School Mental Health Programs and Reinforce Education
For decades, schools and government agencies have accepted wrong advice, as evidenced by conditions not improving but factually worsening. It’s not only families and children that are being harmed but educators are also taking the blows.
Teachers report more aggressive behavior than ever before, aimed at both other students and teachers themselves.
According to a government study on school crime and safety, 10% of public school teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student from their school and 6% reported being physically attacked by a student from their school.
Add to this, students are abusing prescription psychotropic drugs, unaware of the dangers these drugs can cause. The fastest-growing drug problem in the United States isn’t cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines, it’s prescription drugs, which profoundly affect the lives of children and teenagers. One in four teenagers erroneously believes that prescription drugs can be used as a study aid.
Stimulants, often prescribed to treat ADHD, have side effects in common with cocaine, and may include paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, and an irregular heartbeat, especially if stimulants are taken in large doses or in ways other than orally. Conversely, depressant drugs can cause slurred speech, shallow breathing, fatigue, disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures upon withdrawal from chronic use.
All these aspects deserve serious attention. The call for governments to investigate the failure of psychiatric screening, programs, and treatment is even more vital now in light of the recent examples of child killers.
 Amanda Musa, Jennifer Feldman, Christina Maxouris and Hannah Sarisohn, “6-year-old in custody after shooting teacher in Virginia, police chief says,” CNN, 7 Jan. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/06/us/newport-news-virginia-shooting/index.html
 Thao Nguyen, “6-year-old who shot Virginia teacher used gun legally purchased by his mother, police say,” USA Today, 9 Jan. 2023, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/01/09/virginia-teacher-6-year-old-student-authorities-gun-shooting/11020209002/
 Op. cit., CNN, 7 Jan. 2023; Maya Yang, “Shooting of teacher by six-year-old a red flag for US, says mayor,” The Guardian, 8 Jan. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/08/shooting-of-teacher-by-six-year-old-a-red-flag-for-us-says-mayor-virginia
 “10-year-old Wisconsin boy charged as adult in fatal shooting of mother over Amazon order of VR headset,” NBC News, 1 Dec. 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/10-year-old-wisconsin-boy-charged-adult-fatal-shooting-mother-amazon-o-rcna59605
 Shannon Dawson, “Family Of 10-Year-Old Milwaukee Boy Charged With Fatally Shooting His Mother Reveals More Details About The Startling Case,” Madamnoire.com, 30 Dec. 2022, https://madamenoire.com/1331967/family-of-10-year-old-milwaukee-boy-charged-speak-out/
 Cheyenne R. Ubiera, “MEMORIAL DAY ‘MURDER’: Girl, 10, charged with MURDER for ‘killing woman who was fighting with her mom’ and screaming a chilling message,” The U.S. Sun, 7 June 2022, https://www.the-sun.com/news/5512864/girl-charged-murder-shooting-orlando-florida/
 Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Program Fiscal Year 2022
 “Resolution: Promoting the Use of Academic Solutions to Resolve Problems with Behavior, Attention, and Learning,” Colorado State Board of Education, 11 Nov. 1999
 Jodi Wilgoren, “Terror In Littleton: The Investigation,” The New York Times, 29 Apr. 1999, http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/01/us/terror-littleton-investigation-little-was-done-complaints-littleton-file.html; Hon. William H. Erickson, Chairman, “The Report of Governor Bill Owens” Columbine Review Commission, May 2001, http://www.state.co.us/columbine/Columbine_20Report_WEB.pdf; Sean Murphy, “Jury selection for Underwood taking longer than expected,” News OK, 22 Feb. 2008, http://newsok.com/jury-selection-for-underwood-taking-longer-than-expected/article/3207220; Kelly Patricia O’Meara, “Prescription Drugs May Trigger Killing,” Insight On The News, 2 Sept. 2002; “School Gunman Was Seeing a Psychiatrist,” MSNBC, 28 Apr. 1999; https://www.biography.com/crime-figure/dylan-klebold
 https://www.cchrint.org/cchrs-exposure-of-antidepressant-risks-false-marketing-of-the-chemical-imbalance-theory/, citing Arianna Huffington, “Antidepressants—As Dangerous as Guns?” The New York Post, 8 May 1999
 Summary of FDA Adverse Drug Reaction Reports for Prozac, 1988-1992, obtained through Freedom of Information Act by CCHR
 Kelly P. O’Meara, “A Different Kind of Drug War,” Insight Magazine, 13 Dec. 1999. CCHR’s Psychiatric Drugs Create Violence and Suicide report, 2018
 Op. cit., Colorado State Board of Education, 11 Nov. 1999
 Mark Abadi, James Pasley, Taylor Ardrey, “The 30 deadliest mass shootings in US history include Buffalo and Uvalde,” Yahoo! News, 26 May 2022, https://news.yahoo.com/30-deadliest-mass-shootings-us-184057639.html
 “Mental Health Records of Va. Tech Shooter Found In Ex-Director’s Home,” New York Post, 22 July 2009, https://nypost.com/2009/07/22/mental-health-records-of-va-tech-shooter-found-in-ex-directors-home/; Emily Friedman, “Va. Tech Shooter Seung-Hui Cho’s Mental Health Records Released,” ABC News, 19 Aug. 2009, https://abcnews.go.com/us/seung-hui-chos-mental-health-records-released/story?id=8278195
 “UVA confirms shooting suspect part of field trip,” WAVY.com, 15 Nov. 2022, https://www.wavy.com/news/virginia/ap-u-va-shooting-suspect-part-of-field-trip-school-confirms/
 Evelyn Pringle, “FDA Forgot A Few ADHD Drug Related Deaths and Injuries,” Lawyers and Settlements, 15 Feb. 2006, https://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/legal-news/drugs-medical/adhd_fda-00103.html; Suzanne Clark, Blackboard Blackmail, (Footstool Publications, Memphis, TN, 1988), p. 138; Robert Holland, “Education in Arkansas: A Dubious Clintonite Model for the Nation,” The Richmond Times-Dispatch, 26 June 1996
 “NO RIGHT OR WRONG,” https://beststartforkids.org/failing-education/no-right-or-wrong/
 “10-year-old Wisconsin boy charged as adult in fatal shooting of mother over Amazon order of VR headset,” NBC News, 1 Dec. 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/10-year-old-wisconsin-boy-charged-adult-fatal-shooting-mother-amazon-o-rcna59605, citing: “Violent Deaths at School and Away From School and School Shootings,” National Center for Education Statistics, May 2022, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/a01/violent-deaths-and-shootings?tid=4
 Op. cit., Madamnoire.com, 30 Dec. 2022
 “Police: Florida girl, 10, arrested on murder charge after shooting woman fighting mom,” Fox 35 News, 7 June 2022, https://www.fox35orlando.com/news/police-10-year-old-florida-girl-charged-with-murder-in-shooting-death-of-orlando-woman
 Op. cit., The U.S. Sun, 7 June 2022
 Op. cit., Fox 35 News, 7 June 2022
 “Boy, 10, guilty of assault,” Tampa Bay Times, 3 May 1996, https://www.tampabay.com/archive/1996/02/21/armed-boy-uses-niece-as-shield-police-say/; “Armed boy uses niece as shield, police say,” Tampa Bay Times, 21 Feb. 1996, Updated 15 Sept. 2005, https://www.tampabay.com/archive/1996/02/21/armed-boy-uses-niece-as-shield-police-say/; Lisa Holewa, “Lawyer Blames Boy’s Standoff on Prozac,” Los Angeles Times, 24 Mar. 1996, https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1996-03-24-mn-50667-story.html
 Ibid., Tampa Bay Times, 3 May 1996; https://ceasetoexistt.tumblr.com/post/177512369803/in-february-1996-a-floridian-boy-named-timothy
 https://www.cchrint.org/2022/05/23/mental-health-month-spotlights-failures-more-acts-of-senseless-violence/; Will McDuffie and Meredith Deliso, “School shooting suspect told counselors alarming drawings were for video game, superintendent says,” ABC News, 4 Dec 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/US/school-shooting-suspect-told-counselors-alarming-drawings-video/story?id=81559292; “Counselor: Warned Crumbley Parents That Teen At Risk Before Shooting,” CBS Detroit, 24 Feb 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/detroit/news/counselor-warned-crumbley-parents-that-teen-at-risk-before-shooting/