Over the summer it was a blessing to be free of news of serious school shootings, but recently one of our ‘sister’ schools, a high school, was on lock down due to a bomb threat called into ‘911’, and this was a church school! It’s never too early to talk about this epidemic of school shootings.
I follow on Twitter some agrieved families in Parkland, FL area who are carrying their love for their lost ones kinda like me. The rampage that affected their school 8 months ago has changed so many lives in that community for years. It’s important to me to hear from other families suffering from the loss of a child, brother. Very few understand our kind of pain. It helps me to read of their continual efforts to assuage their anger and loss, and make that school system and local government more accountable!
It bothered me alot last school year that we didn’t hear much from any source about school safety! There’s lots on ‘preventing’ Identity theft, legalizing marijuana, why isn’t more said publicly about guarding the perimeter, gates of a school, checking for weapons or I.D.? After the shooting in South Houston area right before June Graduation, I kept wondering …. why weren’t the school gates kept locked? Who was in charge of monitoring it, I.D.ing people? People failed the kids. Just a tragic repetition of neglect, laziness or something. I thought most schools have security by now, but I’m wrong.
Protecting school children doesn’t have to be so complicated. Some school systems don’t have the money for fancy security but they don’t have to go unsafe. Letting Vets, grandparents who want to help have a part in the safety of our children is a valid option. Having better school entry rules can be an easy solution. But ….. too many think a shooting will never happen to them, they want an ‘open’ door policy and don’t want to ‘pester’ the authorities. Why not more school forums, police town halls on this epidemic? It’s a mixed scenario, and an un-glamorous job but there has to be a combined strategy so parents as well as school leaders are on the same page.
I’m not a Police officer but a mother and educator. Having gone thru the murder of my son I researched the epidemic of youth crime and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share ideas about prevention I’ve learned. Also, I attended a seminar recently held by Officer Sean Dinse of the Los Angeles Police Dept. Topanga Div. where he shared his program to combat school shootings.
My own thoughts …. think about it …. do you hear of a homeless person coming onto a campus to shoot or stab students? Or a man angry with his boss? Or jealous husbands shooting school kids? Mass school shooters are almost entirely youth who have some gripe with a teacher or student. There are patterns if you will, to any crime trend says another former L.A. Detective.
School shooters are ‘teens’, and they go onto a campus they know well ….. where they have friends or perceived enemies or romantic illusions. They seek entry to a site where they are not strangers ….. they know where key classrooms are, lockers, offices or cafeteria. They aren’t considered a threat in some cases, they know which class is meeting at what time of day and where people will be …. who their victims will be and they can generally find them.
Officer Dinse shared a new tactic at his seminar …. for some reason a couple local high schools averted possible trouble from some teenagers because a few parents looked at the Facebook pages of the students in their kids schools. ‘Bingo’ …. some deeply troubled, threatening kids were discovered and their parents contacted and the teens got help.
Teens live with intense hormones churning inside, huge dreams and needs that have to be addressed somehow. Many youth will fantasize or brag on social media about weapons, the desire to commit dark deeds or hatred of some group. The FBI are not therapists, or the agency that comes up with plans for school violence prevention. We can’t expect the police to comb thru students FB pages, but an involved group of moms and/or school officials can do some homework and expose potential troublemakers.
High Schools or parent groups can go over students FB pages in a few hours, just to get some idea of the general mind-set of each child? There are Yearbooks, other rosters that show school enrollment. Some troubled kids don’t think their parents read their FB posts or even care. What’s on FB is ‘public’ so anyone can view. And the potential offender ‘loves/needs’ to brag, flaunt or threaten his various classmates, enemies …. he doesn’t separate reality that well many times. On social media a teen is in a sense talking out loud or taking an ad out in the paper and advertising his identity to the world. A teen without friends, or one who concentrates on weapons or anger over his life goals, is someone who’s getting lost or who needs intervention.
Social Media is our new ‘neighborhood block party’. It may be a good idea anyway to go over the FB page of your child’s friends, or the guy who’s dating your daughter. When I was on an adult Christian dating site last year I was sickened by the number of weirdos who tried to contact me, or who were removed? Sick people have always found ways to show the world a ‘nice’ face, but kids aren’t always aware of deceptive tactics.
A caring parent or counselor can talk with the parents of a teen and help that family unit to deal with the child. Many kids need more parental supervision in order to turn their thoughts and rhetoric around. Some teens will definitely stop ranting about people, some will get help and some will commit a crime …. elsewhere, not in a school setting.
None of us should live in ignorance about the growing trend of youth mass shooters. It’s a hard topic to bring up to some but simple policies can be set in motion to save lives. There’s Federal grant money available for those who wish to work on the school safety issue. It doesn’t take many people to make a difference in any school, only a few can turn a school around if they know what to do. A couple strong parents, teachers, retired police or military would be good resource people in your community to coordinate some of this responsibility. Parents are so much more powerful than they think!
I always think that taking responsibility for your life primarily lies in your own hands first, it’s not others responsibility to watch out for you, unless you’re a little child. It seems to me that to wait for State or Federal govt to make laws may take months or years to implement, and some laws may be too costly or not needed if parents and concerned schools do their homework to make their schools safe. There’s many times a ‘code of silence’ around teens and their parents but this is not the time to keep those walls up but take them down with a sense of urgency and education in classes, at home.
Love after death can do amazing things!