Blame the child? Or blame the system?

Last week, 14-year-old Asa Coon entered his school and shot two fellow students and two teachers before killing himself.

Coon’s school, SuccessTech Academy, will never be the same. Cleveland Public Schools will never be the same. In the view of many, Ohio schools will never be the same.

Thankfully, none of the shooter’s targets were fatally hit. But the damage still runs deep.

Nearly a week later, the task for us, as humans, is to decipher why a young high school student would even fathom such a rampage. More importantly, we need to find the root of the problem. How can we live in a society in which such a child could be created? What steps could have been taken to ensure that something like this is at least less likely to happen again?

Cleveland Public Schools is planning on installing metal detectors in each of the 111 schools in the district. They are also planning on beefing up security to the tune of airport-style x-ray machines in the high schools and increasing the number of security guards. The equipment and installation has an estimated cost of about $3.3 million. The added maintenance costs and staff has an estimated price tag of $2 million annually.

A price cannot be put on the safety of our students. But many questions should be raised before such spending occurs in Cleveland Public Schools. Fiscal responsibility is not the moral of the story. Common sense is the issue.

The Cleveland Public School District consistently has problems with funding. It is not a bad idea to question whether a few million dollars would be better spent in other ways. Paying teachers more fairly would entice them to stay in the district. Better building upkeep would boost morale. Newer textbooks would provide a better learning environment. The list goes on and on.

Cleveland is also consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. Shootings occur almost daily within city limits. Not to discount the seriousness of the current case, but more attention should be put on the widespread epidemic of gun violence. Perhaps more social workers should be employed in the area. Perhaps more money should be set aside to pay the social workers we already have. Perhaps community workers at our schools should have regular training sessions to keep up with the real-life obstacles and concerns that today’s children are forced to endure.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to force people to look at themselves in the mirror. How could we have made a difference? We’re sure many students and faculty at SuccessTech Academy have been asking themselves the same question. Coon clearly had some serious problems in his home life. The warning signs seemed to have been visible. When the red flags are visible, it is time to take action. It is possible that action was attempted and subsequently resisted.

However, it seems more likely that Coon’s warning signs simply went unnoticed by the people who are paid to notice this sort of thing. This says many things about the school’s community workers and teachers. They could be incompetent in their occupations. They could be overworked and underpaid, which typically results in lesser performance. Or they could have seen the warning signs and simply not had the time or training necessary to correctly deal with such issues. Regardless of reason, the result is tragedy.

Many variables are in play when an event like this occurs. Some impact more than others. Regardless, we must continue to look at the bigger picture of why such terrible things such as the shooting at SuccessTech Academy happen. Metal detectors may help, but what do they do to the psyche of our students? Many questions remain unanswered by the people making the decisions in Cleveland Public Schools. It is up to us as not only Ohioans, but as humans, to step up and understand that there is much more to this equation than an angry 14-year-old boy.

It starts with compassion and education. It ends with action and resolution.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.