This letter concerns the recent school shooting, in Oxford, Michigan, and its illogical handling by our society. We all need to reevaluate our behavior before, during and following each of these tragedies.

Parental love of our children can be strained in the face of misbehavior. Most of us want to address these occasions with the goal of helping the child learn and become a better member of our society. The 15-year-old charged in the shooting is, after all, a child, exhibiting flawed, but childlike, behavior produced by an immature brain. He is also a product of our culture, in which adults increasingly exhibit impulsive, flawed and unaddressed behavior.

What good can come from prosecuting him as an adult and placing him in jail for life? Doing so will allow some adults to erroneously feel that they have solved a hard problem and that the horror of that day can be set aside and not addressed further. In fact, by doing so, we produce one more victim and another example to our children of adults behaving poorly.

At these times, our entire culture should be on trial. Parents, schools and communities need to examine how we have become guilty of producing such troubled children. Why is there so much resistance to mental health counseling in our schools? Why does our health reimbursement system make counseling so difficult to access? Could this be another reason to favor a single-payer system that would increase availability of psychiatric care?

David Scotton, M.D.
Cape Elizabeth

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