The school year started off with the typical fanfare for students and teachers. Lost in the coverage of the hurricanes that hit the gulf coast were the stories about students bringing guns to school. These stories suggest that there is a serious problem in our schools that we are not addressing. Primarily, the internal threat in our schools from our students. The underlying cause of these occurrences varies based on the individual case, but these incidents demonstrate that there is a crisis that needs addressing. It is being met with the usual practice of adding cameras and securing doors. The same approach that has failed to stop these events for the last 35 years.
It is understood that cameras and exterior security have a place in our schools. The surveillance addresses issues of theft, bullying, fighting, and vandalism. In the instance of school violence, however, we have seen that most perpetrators indicate that they want the world to see what they have done. The idea for them is that the shooter will become infamous for the actions taken and shown across the world. The recent shooting in Washington state at Freeman High School is a good example. The student shooter has confessed to police that he wanted to teach everyone a lesson about bullying. Like many other school shooters his intention was to not survive the attack. The student shooter left a suicide note at his parents house before taking two guns to school in a duffel bag. This atrocity was minimized, fortunately, by the malfunction of both weapons. A massacre in the making was avoided.
The CDC puts out an annual report on Understanding School Violence. The three page report is a must read. The striking statistic is that students are arming themselves for protection. Almost 1 out of every 20 students has brought some type of weapon to school in the last 30 days. Administrators and elected officials need to start recognizing the only true deterrence is for the students to feel that the staff can protect them. Empowerment of staff and quick notification to the police have been shown to halt hostile intruders.
According to the FBI Active Shooter (2012 with 2013 & 2014 supplements) report 84% of school shooters are students. This percentage has only increased since the studies release as the disproportionate numbers of incidents with students as shooters have occurred.
The SafeDefend system was designed to specifically address the two components of alerting staff and police and providing options for response. Most student shooters are unprepared for resistance and confrontation. Preparing staff to respond quickly in a crisis has been proven to reduce casualties and save lives.