Salvador Ramos' Expulsion Allowed 'Isolation and Disconnection' to Fester

Salvador Ramos, the suspected perpetrator in the mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Texas last week, had been expelled from school, and that may have led to feelings of "isolation and disconnection," according to psychologists.

State police have said that they've found no apparent motive or warning signs for the attack. They noted that Ramos had no documented history of mental illness or a criminal record, according to a New York Times report.

After the shooting, Governor Greg Abbott was able to confirm that Ramos was a high school dropout, the AP reported. According to a neighbor and family friend, Ramos had been angry about his lack of academic success and this sparked a fight with his grandmother, before he shot her ahead of the school shooting.

The neighbor wasn't interviewed on camera, but reporter John Mone, of local news channel Newsy, revealed that he had spoken to a resident he named as Eduardo Trinidad, who gave him these details.

"We know that the generator of difficulty is isolation and disconnection and disaffection," Maurice Elias, a professor of psychology and director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab, told Newsweek.

"We know that this is the situation that brews violence, so schools need to become places of support, welcoming, they need to be places where children's social and emotional needs are seen as important as their academic needs. They are completely interconnected, from a practical point of view, when students drop out they cannot be allowed to drop off."

He continued: "What happens now is kids drop out, the schools are not responsible for them anymore, no one is responsible for them anymore and then we hear about them again. These are not kids that are necessarily going to do shootings, but they might, but they are going to engage in some kind of mischief because they are lost.

"So we have to design our social systems so that our care for children does not only to extend to when they are in our good graces."

Linda Reddy, a professor in the School Psychology Doctoral Program at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, highlighted to Newsweek that there is also a racial element to the amount of support that children in America get. She insisted that all other avenues should be considered instead of expulsion.

"Zero tolerance policies do not work, there is no research evidence for zero tolerance policies in schools," she said. "The hardening procedures, throwing kids out of school, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension does not work to reduce school violence.

"This has been decades now of research. What it does do is hurt kids who are brown and black because they are disproportionately punished over any other school environment. This is very relevant to school violence or misbehavior, this is a serious issue, we know that we are harming kids with zero tolerance policies and that impacts their mental health and their ability to be successful in school."

Reflecting on the shooting that resulted in the deaths of 21 people, both experts spoke about the importance of having high quality systems in place to cater to young people's emotional needs as they grow up.

Focus on the Community

Elias insisted there needs to be a greater emphasis on not allowing children who dropout or are expelled from school to fall into antisocial or self-destructive habits and behavior.

Reddy, who is involved in a national task force with the American Psychological Association on violence against teachers and school personnel, said "throwing children out of schools" does not work to resolve the problem and Elias warned that if a young person is thrown out of school and not properly supported, this can "brew and become trouble for society."

Both experts emphasized that going forward, there needs to be a greater focus on community, at every level of society, to ensure that young people feel heard and valued.

Robb Elementary School
A memorial for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 27, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Two Psychologists have spoken about the importance of community for all children, regardless of whether they are in school to help prevent isolation and disconnection. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images