Letters to the Editor

THURSDAY, JAN. 20, 2011

Heading off trouble

A corrective action for crazed killers in Tucson and elsewhere is psychological testing in schools. Age-appropriate tests to flag and treat worrisome students would prevent these tragedies. They might also take a bite out of our dismal 30 percent dropout rate and the chaos these students create in the classroom before they drop out.

Tests could be given to everyone at certain grade levels or be ordered by concerned school staff. Social investment would, of course, be required, an anathema to strong bootstrap Americans. We would have to hire school psychologists over and above the one school counselor per two schools we now have. Long-term savings would surely more than balance out the costs for more prisons.

In the short term, unfortunately, mental health facilities will still be needed for the generations of individuals thrown out of closed institutions essentially living in and out of jail. Fortunately, mental health facilities are still cheaper than prisons. Appropriate psychological help for children is both the cheapest alternative and the right thing to do.

Leonard Butters


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