Nikolas Cruz Flew Red Flags — New Career Path Of Social Media Counselors For Schools Needed [Opinion]

Joel AuerbachAP Images

Red flags were flying when it came to the young man who is charged today with the premeditated murder of 17 innocent souls. His classmates joked before this tragedy that “if anyone were to open fire inside the school, it would be Mr. Cruz,” according to the NY Times.

Some of the students apparently saw the danger lurking inside Nicolas Cruz, which they shared in hindsight with media reporters. Even if you didn’t know Nicolas Cruz, his social media accounts did everything but flash “Danger” across the screen. According to the Sun, Cruz vowed to be a “school shooter” last year on a comment he posted on a YouTube clip about another shooting.

Some anonymous tipster must have recognized the possible danger when they informed the FBI about that YouTube posting. That post stated: “I am going to be a professional school shooter.” It was signed… “Nikolas Cruz.”

The FBI admitted to following up on the tip in a news conference today but said there wasn’t anything for them to go on as far as making an arrest. That comment was left by Cruz last year on a YouTube clip that was about the notorious 1966 clock tower sniper a the University of Texas.

During the news conference today in Florida, FBI Special Agent Rob Lasky said that the comment was flagged by the agency, “but the person behind the comment could not be located,” reports Fox News.

Mourners at Parkland school shooting
This ashes on her forehead from Ash Wednesday services offer a stark contrast to the agony in this woman's face at the Parkland Florida school shooting.Featured image credit: Joel AuerbachAP Images

There are reports that Cruz had posted photos of small animal carcasses on social media. His social media pages had images of him with guns and knives. The red flags were all over the place and the tragedy has left 17 innocent people dead and hundreds of people with emotional scars they will carry with them for life.

Students who talked with reporters only hours after the incident described stepping over the “bodies” of their classmates. They shared how they found themselves navigating around “pools of blood” left on the floor by the evil that just played out in the school’s hallways.

Many of the students looked shocked and reported these sights in a methodical, or almost a mechanical-like way, which indicated the toll this took on these students who were lucky enough to make it out alive.

Hindsight is a terrible side effect of these shootings, especially in a case like the one that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, yesterday. That is because what happened in those hallways was just about spelled out for anyone who took the time to see it on the social media sites of this teen.

In this day and age of social media, it might be time to open a new avenue in the psychology field for the schools. You have school counselors, who are there to help the students when they are looking for help, but in a case like this one, someone needed to be proactive. It might be time for a new role of a social media monitor in the schools. This would entail someone in charge of monitoring the social media sites of the students in their school. Depending on the number of students, there may be a need for multiple monitors per school.

Nicolas Cruz
Nicolas Cruz flied many red flags ahead of this school shooting, but apparently there wasn't much follow-up on these signs pointing to danger.Featured image credit: Broward County JailAP Images

The social media sites are open to the public, so this would not be doing something underhanded. It would entail the monitoring and the flagging of the sites of individual students who send off signals, much like the blatant signals sent off by Nicolas Cruz. You might say this wouldn’t work because it isn’t always schools targeted, but if you think about it, most of these recent shootings have been young men, with the exception of the Las Vegas shooter. This means these young men would have been monitored somewhere in a school system before the incident took place, leaving a window of opportunity for an intervention before the incident unfolded.

This wouldn’t be fool-proof by any means of the imagination, but it might just be a step in the right direction. “See something, say something” was done in this case, when it came to the anonymous tipster alerting the FBI. But if there were people in a professional position within the school systems monitoring and intervening in such cases, by the time it was deemed serious enough to contact the FBI, they’d have all the information needed to follow up on this.

No one wants to be spied on, but people already know that most employers do a social media search of prospective employees today. It might be time to start using social media as a gauge while the kids are in school. Would a professional social media monitor have been any help in this case? From the many reports in the news media today, it is learned that Nicolaus Cruz had a history of disturbing posts on social media. If there were someone in the school systems monitoring these sites, he might have gotten help long before he was expelled from this school.