Kaplan Calls for More Resources for Survivors of School Shootings

Mark Kaplan, professor of social welfare, co-wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times about the effects of repeat exposure to school shootings on youth and ways to help them. In K-12 schools alone, 338,000 children have been exposed to gun violence since 1999, the authors write. These adverse childhood experiences can increase the likelihood of mental health issues, chronic diseases, addiction and suicidal thoughts. The authors stressed the importance of providing support to communities, noting that implementing gun reform is a very slow process. They suggested providing schoolwide services for post-traumatic stress disorder after shootings; access to primary care, family therapy and grief support; and more trauma-informed practices. Writing days after a deadly shooting at Michigan State University, the authors concluded that students “deserve a comprehensive, science-informed, thoughtful gun violence prevention plan that puts them first and works to change the structures that can lead to shootings like the one at MSU.”


Kaplan on Challenges in Implementing Gun Control

Mark Kaplan, professor of social welfare, spoke to Yahoo News about deadly shootings happening in California and the rest of the country. The government spends only a small amount of money on firearm violence research, Kaplan said. “Quite often with prevention, we don’t know what’s been prevented. That’s the problem. Because we don’t really have good research,” he said. Kaplan also said strong gun laws in places such as California are undercut by illegal trafficking across state borders. “The idea of piecing together a patchwork of 50 states and coming up with a national policy is almost impossible in this country.  … The problem is state lines, and how do we minimize the flow of firearms into areas that have very strict firearm laws.” The Half Moon Bay Review also cited Kaplan’s research into the relationship between social inequity and gun violence, including his finding that “there is a strong correlation between homicide per million and income inequality.”

Kaplan on High Rate of Suicide Among White Men

Mark Kaplan, professor of social welfare, spoke to KERA News about alarmingly high rates of suicide from gun violence in North Texas cities. Over half of the suicides reported in Collin Country, Tarrant County and Dallas County involved a gun. While white men make up about 20% of Collin County’s population, they accounted for 70% of suicides. Kaplan, who researches suicide risk, said men have a higher likelihood of dying by suicide than women. Major life events can serve as a catalyst for a person to commit suicide, he said. Often, suicides are not planned but are the culmination of stressful events paired with mental health issues, leading to a “death of despair.” “The presence of a gun, either in a household or lots of guns in the community, increases the likelihood of a gun death, either homicide, suicide or unintentional,” Kaplan said.