Report questions role of wealth in Newtown shooter's care
HARTFORD, Conn. - A review of the educational and mental health background of the man who carried out the 2012 Newtown massacre asks whether the race and affluence of his family influenced decisions about how to care for his mental health problems.
A report released Friday by the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate describes missed opportunities to provide Adam Lanza more appropriate treatment.
The report found that Lanza's parents and educators contributed to his social isolation by accommodating - and not confronting - his difficulties engaging with the world.
Adam Lanza killed his mother then shot his way into the Newtown school on Dec. 14, 2012, and gunned down 20 children and six educators before committing suicide.
Some highlights from Friday's 114-page report from the Connecticut Office of Child Advocate that looked into the history of Newtown school shooter Adam Lanza:
- Lanza's mother and his educational team both had a goal to manage and accommodate his disabilities, rather than treat them.
- Lanza's parents and the school thought of him as intellectually gifted. But psychological testing showed his cognitive abilities were average.
- The report recommends that school staff have training to identify mental health warning signs. It also said schools must play a critical role in the identification and referral of students with social, emotional and behavioral health problems.
- The report recommends universal screening of children for mental health needs until they are 21.
- Lanza and his parents did not appear to seek or participate in any mental health treatment after 2008. There also was no sustained input from any mental health provider documented in Lanza's educational record or medical record after 2006.
- Lanza's "severe and deteriorating internalized mental health problems" were combined with a preoccupation with violence. With access to deadly weapons, this "proved a recipe for mass murder," the report concludes.
- Lanza's communications suggest depression and suicidal thoughts, but not psychosis. Autism spectrum disorder neither caused nor led to the shooting.
- The report questions whether Lanza's race and privileged socio-economic status impacted how he was treated. "Is the community more reluctant to intervene and more likely to provide deference to the parental judgment and decision-making of white, affluent parents than those caregivers who are poor or minority?" the report asks.
- Lanza was anorexic (6 feet tall and 112 pounds), to the point of malnutrition and resultant brain damage.
- Recognizing the role that assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines played, the authors said Lanza's easy access to them "cannot be ignored as a critical factor in this tragedy." The ready availability of assault weapons in the U.S. is an important public health issue, they said.