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Public Statements

Identify Troubled Youth Needing Help and Support

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, in our continuing efforts to turn the tragic events at Newtown to high purpose, I include two articles from the USA Today newspaper, one entitled ``A Boy Lost in the Shadows'', and another, ``Newtown Puts Mental Services in Spotlight.''

These articles remind me of a conversation a few years ago with a caring grade school teacher from my own district who became quite frustrated with the local school system's inability to help her manage the behavior of a child in her elementary classroom. The child, several times a day, became uncontrollable, moving about the classroom, throwing tantrums, screaming loudly, often falling to the floor, thus causing great confusion in the class. Despite the teacher's repeated attempts to help the child, it became obvious professional help was needed. A complicating factor became family members who were in denial that anything out of the ordinary was actually occurring with the child, despite the constant disruption, acting out, anger, and anti-social behavior the child was demonstrating. After repeated attempts that took three years, and let me emphasize three years, the teacher was able to have the child referred to behavioral specialists and placed in a more appropriate learning environment. That situation alone made me wonder about the manner in which we as a society make help available to children who exhibit destructive behaviors that are harmful to themselves and potentially to others.

Mr. Speaker, as a society, we seem to lack the methods to identify troubled youth and put them on a proper path to healing, if healing is possible. Too often, a child is left floundering due to our collective inabilities to help them find a constructive path forward. For example, many of our local boards of education often are not properly equipped to identify and assist children who are uncivil or who are completely alienated from their surroundings. Some families, too, seem unaware of their child's behaviors as unusual or potentially destructive. As the article I inserted in the RECORD yesterday reports, some parents are so overwhelmed in caring for children with special behavioral conditions, they simply don't know what else to do. Then again, too often there is no one to call to help.

Through the Commission President Obama proposed be formed to address the conditions that led to Newtown's tragedy, surely that Commission should invite a cross section of Americans to share their knowledge about what led to the mass killings that have harmed so many in our nation over the past decade, and what we must do as a society to prevent future tragedies. We can all envision a future where the incredible intelligence and goodwill of the citizens of our nation can lead us to a better day if we provide a forum to listen carefully to the voices among us who grapple with these challenges daily.


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