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Preventing School Killings
Compiled by Lauren Ayers
Ever since the tragic shootings at Columbine, and high lighted most recently by the Red Lake shootings, educators face the seemingly impossible task of preventing school violence.

Even at the less horrendous level of "mere" bullying, school violence is so unpredictable that educators can't find logical ways to protect our students.

We can do something. Information from seemingly unrelated disciplines comes together below as a guide of what has worked where it has been tried. Here's hoping more school districts put this sensible plan to work!

If you want a succinct overview of life-saving info, read on. My few comments are in this typeface, the rest are footnoted.

In Food and Mood, Elizabeth Somer writes, "Researchers find that as fish consumption goes up, depression rates go down. In fact, there is a sixty-fold difference in depression rates across countries from the highest omega-3 fat consumption (Japan and Taiwan) to the lowest (North America, Europe and New Zealand)."

What does depression have to do with killing classmates? Eric Harris, one of the teen gunmen in the infamous Columbine massacre in 1999, had been prescribed Prozac, as had Kip Kinkel, who killed his parents and classmates at Thurston High School in Oregon in 1998. http://www.nydailynews.com/front/v-pfriendly/story/293247p-250999c.html

One study this month in the Archives of General Psychiatry concluded that about 1 percent of American children were treated for depression in any year and that 57 percent of them got antidepressants, said Mark Olfson, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and the lead author. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/12/11/MNG2I3KPIC1.DTL

Mosholder, a child psychiatrist, reviewed data from 20 clinical trials involving more than 4,100 children and eight different antidepressants. His preliminary analysis, according to two FDA sources familiar with the report's contents, concluded that there was an increased risk of suicidal behavior among children being treated for depression with Paxil and several other antidepressants.

British regulators, who told doctors in December to stop prescribing Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor and three other antidepressants to children because of an apparent "increased rate of self-harm and suicidal thoughts."

British regulators took action against Paxil in early June after new data showed that children taking the drug were nearly three times as likely to consider or attempt suicide as children taking placebos.
Rob Waters, The SF Chronicle, 2-1-04,

As Dr. Breggin points out in his earlier book, Talking Back to Prozac, these drugs rob people of their humanity-they lose their capacity for empathy. "A lot of what we are seeing is individuals losing their feeling for the people in their lives. They stop caring about their husbands or wives or children. They stop caring about God." Though zombie-like numbness may initially be felt to be an improvement by someone with depression, it can hardly be considered healthy, or even desirable. It is this loss of empathy in my opinion, that allowed Kip Kinkel to kill both of his parents, then spend the night in the same room before heading out to shoot his classmates in Oregon. It is precisely why Eric Harris could wander around shooting his classmates in Columbine High School, even kids he liked, and laugh about it. http://cat007.com/prozac.htm

If you want to know where our civility went, along with high test scores and that famous "can do" ability to turn lemons into lemonade, those qualities declined when fish consumption declined. American kids used to get fish on Fridays, whether they were Catholic or not, because that was the typical Friday cafeteria offering. Then the Pope said eating fish it wasn't required, fish got more expensive, and pizza (which contains NO omega-3s!) took over.

Meanwhile, to magnify the problem, if fish is served, it is often loaded with trans fats. Just one fillet of battered fish from a fish and chips restaurant dinner contained about 1.2 grams of trans fat -- and that's not including the trans fat in the French fries. http://www.bantransfats.com/

Violent and impulsive behavior. Observational studies (Hibbeln et al., 2000, 1998a, 1998b) suggest that low plasma DHA levels and, therefore, presumably low CNS (central nervous system) levels may increase the predisposition of some individuals to violent or impulsive behavior. This effect appears to be larger in certain groups, especially males who develop alcohol dependence before 20 years of age. One proposed explanation is that genetic abnormalities in EFA metabolism result in a higher turnover rate of serotonin in the CNS, associated with higher levels of cerebrospinal fluid hydroxyindolacetic acid (CSF 5-HIAA).

A recent report of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial in 231 adult prisoners showed that prisoners given a vitamin/mineral supplement and an EFA supplement committed an average of 26.3% fewer disciplinary offenses than those receiving placebos (Gesch et al., 2002). http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/p021028.html

What to do instead of prescription drugs?
In the case of autism spectrum disorders and ADHD, many parents report great success with a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet that cuts out milk and wheat. Another common starting point for hyperactive kids is the Feingold diet, which bans artificial flavors, colors, and some preservatives.

Research among a group of 26 kids (also with ADHD) at Cornell Medical Center in New York found that three quarters responded well to a diet that eliminated several problem foods.

In addition to allergic reactions and sensitivities, many kids with ADHD, autism, Tourette's syndrome, and other disorders have been found to suffer from dramatic deficiencies in certain nutrients, including magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins. . . . In one recent study of 400 ADHD children, for instance, zinc supplements beat placebos in treating certain aspects of the disorder, including hyperactivity and impulsivity.

. . . .A study of 20 children with ADHD published in the Alternative Medicine Review found a regimen of supplements to be as effective as Ritalin.

"Imagine someone with their head whipping around, jumping and bouncing up and down, and not being able to concentrate on anything," Dunstan says. "Well, that was Alex." Realizing just after Alex's fifth birthday that he simply was not going to be able to handle kindergarten, Dunstan began experimenting with the Feingold diet. "We noticed an improvement after just one week," Dunstan says; Alex almost immediately began to calm down and sit still. A month later, still concerned about her son's inability to concentrate, Dunstan began eliminating corn syrup from his diet--and the transformation was complete. "He can actually sit next to someone else and not reach out and touch that person," says Dunstan, laughing. "His teacher is a complete believer." http://www.alternativemedicine.com/AMHome.asp?cn=Catalog&act;=SearchAttribute&crt;=Name1=HCArticleList%26Value1=Magazine%20Issue%2068%20-%20June%202004%26Op1=EQ%26StartPage=1%26PageSize=902&Style;=\AMXSL\HCDetail.xsl

Prozac from the Sea
Study: Fish Oil Contains Natural Ingredients That Help Treat Depression
By John McKenzie, ABC News
Aug. 19, 2002

For years, researchers have been searching the seas, collecting rare sponges, coral and algae in the hope that the chemicals they contain might become potent medications.

Now some researchers say they've found an effective antidepressant below the waves: Fish, or more specifically, fish oil containing so-called omega-3 fatty acids.

"We've been very impressed by the response rates we've observed," said Dr. David Mischoulon, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital who has overseen an omega-3 clinical trial. "We believe there is definitely something to these treatments."

Scientists first became interested when they noticed that countries with the highest fish consumption had the lowest rates of depression. They also observed that mothers in England who ate very little fish during pregnancy doubled their risk of developing postpartum depression compared to women who ate fish regularly. So scientists began a series of studies to see why.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Found to Have Same Effect
Researchers found that omega-3 fatty acids, when fed to piglets, had the same effect on the brain as the antidepressant Prozac: They raised levels of a critical neurotransmitter, serotonin.

"After only 18 days, those animals that were fed the enriched formula had double the level of serotonin in their frontal cortex, in the part of the brain that regulates depression and impulsivity," said Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, a senior clinical investigator at the National Institutes of Health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated oils that cannot be made by the body and are derived primarily from seafood. The fatty acid with most direct influence on brain development and function is DHA.

"The DHA is highly concentrated in the brain," Hibbeln told ABC News, "and it's concentrated in the brain right where the neurons communicate with each other and all the signals pass back and forth."

The DHA from omega-3 makes up the walls of neurons, Hibbeln said. "The body cannot manufacture DHA so it has to get it from our diet."

At Sheffield University in England, Dr. Malcolm Peet gave omega-3 fatty acids to 70 depressed patients who had not been helped by drugs such as Prozac. After 12 weeks, 69 percent of the patients showed marked improvement compared with 25 percent given placebos.

Trial Participant Reports Significant Improvement
Jim LaBonte of Boston took part in another omega-3 study. LaBonte, who was diagnosed with depression four years ago, had tried Prozac but didn't like the way it made him feel. He complained the drug left him with no emotions, and so he stopped taking it. Then he enrolled in a clinical trial at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"I leaned more toward the skeptical. I wanted to say, 'show me,' " LaBonte told ABC News.

LaBonte took the omega-3 fatty acid DHA each day. Within three weeks, he said, he noticed a significant improvement. He has now been taking DHA for eight months. "I'm fine today. Not only do I not feel as blue, but when they [depressed feelings] do come I am able to handle it," he said.

"We're confident that the results he had were positive," said Mischoulon. "We've also observed similar responses in other people. So it's pretty clear in our minds that these treatments work."

Preliminary studies suggest 1 gram a day of omega-3 fatty acids can be an effective treatment, whether in the form of a nutritional supplement available at most health-food stores or simply by eating fish - especially salmon, sardines or tuna - several times a week.

Researchers say much larger studies are now needed to follow up on the initial success of omega-3 trials, not only against depression but also in treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and violent behavior. http://abcnews.go.com/sections/wnt/MedicineCuttingEdge/brain030819_prozac.html

The problem with salmon is expense. Farmed salmon are cheaper than wild-caught however farming salmon is highly destructive of the ocean. The problem with tuna is that these large fish are at the top of the food chain and have biomagnified the mercury falling into the oceans from power plants burning fossil fuels. Another biomagnified toxin in ocean animals is dioxin, one of the most lethal poisons on earth. If pregnant women are advised to eat tuna rarely, why would you and I want to eat it?

Which brings us to sardines. These small fish are low on the food chain and therefore low in mercury and dioxin. Ethically, over fishing exhausted certain areas (such as John Steinbeck's famous Cannery Row in Monterey), but modern regulations attempt to protect fisherfolk from losing their livelihood.

For vegetarians, flax is an excellent source for omega-3s that has supported human health for 9,000 years. However, certain nutrients (zinc, B6, vitamin E) should be consumed with the flax meal in order to facilitate the conversion of LNA (Alpha Linolenic Acid) to DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid). All three are omega-3 fatty acids, but the latter two are more easily utilized than the first. DHA is extracted from algae and sold in capsule form for vegetarians.

EPA can be made by our bodies from the LNA in flax or hemp. Conversion is less than 3% of the LNA in the flax oil. Flax oil is about half LNA. A complement of vitamins and enzymes are required for the conversion. The conversion is impaired in Welsh-Irish, Norwegian, Inuit, Oriental and North American Native genes. The conversion is impaired by degenerative conditions. HD, being an insidious devil, may impair the conversion. The only certain way to know if ones blood level carries a therapeutic level of EPA is by lab test. http://hdlighthouse.org/see/epa/fishoil.htm


Lauren Ayers

James Curiel, PhD
Professor, Sociology

Don Glines
Educational Futures

Hasan Hanks

Jeanie Keltner, PhD
Editor, Because People Matter

Michael J. Kwiker, D.O.

William Mora, M.D.
Health Associates Medical Group

Susan Montoya

Cynthia Mulcaire

Carlina Nowrocki

Robert O’Brien, MA

Suiying Saechao
Member LEAF at Hiram Johnson HS

Charity Smith
President Youth Congress at Sac High