A 114-page report has been released by the state Office of Child Advocate about the mental health and education history of the man who carried out the shootings at Sandy Hook School. The report said the school system unwittingly enabled his mother to "accommodate and appease'' him as his mental health problems worsened. Education advisor Dr Penny Spencer says they concluded that the gunman's homebound placement was inappropriate and non-therapeutic.
Homebound status had limited monitoring. She says it's important for the state to consider more review and monitoring of decisions which result in a child being removed from the educational setting. Child Advocate Sarah Egan says a needs assessment should be done about what is not being met by the school system. She says that will allow schools to be able to implement the right supports and modifications.
The report indicated that the gunman's severe and deteriorating internalized mental health problems were combined with an atypical preoccupation with violence. Dr Julian Ford of the UConn Health Center says that was evident at least since he authored the "Big Book of Granny", a school assignment filled with images and narrative about child murder, cannibalism, and taxidermy.
"His feelings of violence were completely disconnected from an awareness of other people as people. I think that's part of what happens in the cyberworld where mass violence becomes a matter of intellectual discussion, completely distinct that these are people we're talking about."
"According to the present-day statement of the co-author (an individual who as an adult was diagnosed with mental illness and is purportedly living in a residential setting), the book was created following a class assignment to create a comic book-style creative writing project. The co-author claims that the book was bound in school and submitted for a grade. Other reports indicate that the gunman may have attempted to sell the book to peers for 25 cents and that a school administrator spoke to his mother about the matter. "
The report said they recognized the "significant role" that assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines played and said the young man's easy access to them "cannot be ignored as a critical factor in the tragedy".
The advocate's office investigates all child deaths in the state for lessons on prevention.
Dr Harold Schwartz says the gunman appears to have been on a path to violence for some time and the more rigid he became, the harder he was to reach. He says there is no clear indication in the educational records that school staff carefully reviewed or were otherwise explicitly aware of the contents of the "Big Book of Granny".
Ford says there's no evidence that anyone observed him committing acts of violence before December 14th 2012. Ford also says there was no evidence he was the victim of violence even though he could have been subjected to bullying as so many other youths are that have difficulties with peer relationships.
The Office of the Child Advocate report identified missed opportunities to provide more appropriate treatment.
In the three months before the shootings, the 20-year old had not left his room in his mother's spacious colonial-style house, where he lived surrounded by an arsenal of weapons and spent long hours playing violent video games. His parents were divorced, and he had not seen his father for two years. The report also provocatively asks whether a family that was not white or as affluent would have been given the same leeway to manage treatment for their troubled child.
"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 said.
"This report raises, but cannot definitively answer, the question as to whether better access to effective mental health and educational services would have prevented the tragic events at Sandy Hook," the authors wrote.
Ford says the gunman's mother was trying to keep him sheltered, and when medical officials offered a comprehensive approach to pull him out of the downward spiral, she ignored the recommendations. He says youth not in favor of being in treatment need to have a coordinator message of the benefits and that the team is working on their behalf, not compelling them to participate.
Documents released by police in December 2013 included descriptions of sporadic treatment for his mental health troubles. At one point, experts at the Yale Child Studies Center prescribed antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication, but Nancy Lanza discontinued the treatment and never scheduled follow-up visits, police reports said.
A Connecticut judge last year ordered Newtown school officials to give Lanza's records the Office of Child Advocate for its investigation. The governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission has been waiting for the office's report before releasing its recommendations on what the state can do to prevent and respond to future mass killings.
The report pointed to the gunman's mother planning to move him out of Sandy Hook in 2012, as a likely turning point. The report says that he was perhaps stimulated by fears of leaving the "comfort zone" of his home, AL planned and carried out the shooting. But the authors conclude that there was not one thing that was necessarily the tipping point driving the gunman to commit the shootings.
Rather, they say there was a cascade of events, many self-imposed. Those included: loss of school; absence of work; disruption of the relationship with his one friend; virtually no personal contact with family; virtually total and increasing isolation; fear of losing his home and of a change in his relationship with his only caretaker and connection; worsening OCD; depression and anxiety; profound and possibly worsening anorexia; and an increasing obsession with mass murder occurring in the total absence of any engagement with the outside world.
Joseph Erardi Jr., who became superintendent of schools for Newtown this year, said the report will have great meaning if "there is one school leader, one district, one mental health provider or one set of parents who reads this work and can prevent such a heinous crime."
He also said wealth and race will never be a factor when deciding how to treat a child in his school system.
"There will never, ever under my watch be a decision made based on race, color, creed, or wealth index....never," he said. "I feel very strongly about this and would never allow this type of influence in any way."