How to Prevent School Shootings

by Jan 4, 2020Articles2 comments

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How to Prevent School Shootings | 3 Best Ways of Preventing Mass Shootings in Schools Globally | Providing information about global education system for sustainable future and better life

School shootings – A global crisis

The Weakness in Applying Corrective Measures to School Shootings

How to Prevent School Shootings (Applying Preventive Measures to School Shootings)

1. Use of public mental health approach to domestic (family) violence and school shootings

  • Reducing Domestic or family or home violence

  • Acclimatizing and nurturing of the school environment with healthy social and emotional behaviours and habits

  • Encouraging whistleblowing and Threat assessment

  • Dealing with obsession with firearms

  • Meting out appropriate disciplinary actions and exclusionary practices

  • Gun violence and firearms restraining orders  (red flag laws)

2. Banning violent video games

3. Banning assault weapons and firearms

Watch video on How to prevent school shootings

 

Information is key to empowerment. An uninformed society is made up of deformed people. There is dire need of global sustainable education system to ensure better life for the future generations.

School Shootings – A global crisis

Statistics of World’s School Shootings from 1st January 2009 to 23rd May, 2018 

US dominate school-shooting incidents; Kenya recorded the deadliest single school shooting ever; Central American countries record highest rate in gun-related homicide

– The U.S. has had 288 school shootings, 57 times as many school shootings as the other major industrialized nations combined. Mexico is second with 8

– Europe has recorded 5 incidents – 2 in France, 1 each in Russia, Germany and Greece

–  Honduras has the world’s highest gun-related homicide rate in the world, In 2013, Honduras saw 5,630 firearms-related homicides amidst a population of 8.65 million; the United States saw 11,208 such homicides amidst a population of 316 million and El Salvador experienced 1,618 gun homicides amidst a population of 6.2 million that same year.

– Kenya recorded the only and deadliest single school shooting by Al-Shabaab militants on Garissa University College which left 148 people dead in April 2015. Taliban militants killed same number which included 132 schoolchildren at the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan four month earlier.

The Weakness in Applying Corrective Measures to School Shootings

Applying corrective measures to contain a school shooter in an emergency  or lockdown classroom is more like ‘flogging a half-dead horse’ to me but going to the schools and communities to arm them with preventive resources has its backing on the research-based approach to violence prevention and response with unprecedented support from many academic professionals and experts in various fields of endeavour.

How to Prevent School Shootings

1. Use of public mental health approach to domestic (family) violence and school shootings

It is high time homes (families) and schools cultivated social and emotional health education, (Social and emotional learning), connect to community resources and responses as key factor so as to improve social and emotional health, particularly, to troubled students to make homes happier and schools safer. Public mental health approach to gun violence offers a good number of preventive solutions to school shootings:

 Reducing Domestic or family or home violence

54% of the 156 mass shootings that occurred between 2009 and 2016 were related to domestic violence. This strongly supports domestic violence as a predictor of violent behaviour.

Many researchers believe the best way to dissuade abuse is to, firstly, stop people from becoming abusers. This is a problem area social and emotional learning in physical and health education seeks to address

Plentiful factors knit to lead an individual from showing violent behaviour up to shooting up in a school, the often deadly combination of domestic violence and easy access to guns should not be overlooked.

Acclimatizing and nurturing of the school environment with healthy social and emotional behaviours and habits

The school environment, affects students’ mental and emotional health and academic success. It defines the quality of relationships among the students and the staff in a school. It is affected by the school’s approach to discipline and behaviour, the availability of professionals like counsellors and social workers, as well as any social-emotional learning in the classroom. The role of acclimatization and nurturing of the school environment with healthy social and emotional behaviours and habits lies with the teaching staff, counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, both in the school and in the community.

Promoting desirable social and emotional behaviours will remove the major “environmental hazard” in a child’s mindset that contributes to domestic and gun violence. Applying such behavioural and habitual pattern in prevention of school shootings addresses both homicide and likely self-harm (suicide). Suicide is just behind homicide as a leading cause of death for teenagers in US. 

It will also shut down bullying, discrimination and harassment in the school. In Canada, Chile, Israel, Kosovo and even US, kids and students who brought weapons to school had reported a lot of victimization and might have been hated and upset.

Encouraging whistleblowing and Threat assessment

Encouraging whistleblowing kids to report any sight of weapon in school or held discussions, handwritten, drawn or online post hints from students about violent intentions known as threat assessment offers the chance to decelerate conflict before it begins.

In US, 20 to 30 per cent of students above the elementary level consistently report seeing a weapon of some kind at school at least once during the year.  Figuring out and assessment of a source of threat becomes easier when the idea is shared. Almost all students who committed homicide had told someone of their intentions.

By encouraging these whistleblowing students to speak up about potential violence threat and listening to them, we learn that there are many weapons on school grounds and students know about them. The students’ knowledge of weapons in their school is the rumbling before the earthquake.

Nikolas Cruz’s mass shooting at a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida US, might have been prevented if students and teachers were trained to identify and dislodge any intended gun attack after he had posted threatening messages on his Instagram account about killing himself and others. Similar strategy was used in Germany as a pilot program to leak planned students’ gun violent attack and within seven months of the program, at least 19 high-risk cases were identified across the country, and necessary help was offered to the students.

A threat assessment and response team which can consists of the principal, school counsellor, school psychologist and a school-based police officer can be set up to investigate a threat report. At each social level — friends, teachers, principals, parents, neighbours and law enforcement — there needs to be a response when an individual tells others of a plan to kill or harm, shows weapons, makes threats, has a method or has a target in mind. The threat assessment and response team talks to the people and any witnesses involved and try to figure out how serious the threat is in terms of target particularity, detailed plan of engagement, associated weaponry, etc.

The team will take precautionary measures and remedial actions to avert the intended catastrophe like protecting the envisioned victims, notifying parents, questioning, referrals to social and mental health officers, and the likes. The team should have the capacity to offer support and protection to whistleblowing students.

One other factor that will encourage witnesses reporting gun violence in school amidst the fears for their safety even if there is no constituted threat harassment and response team in the school – a situation where nothing will be likely done is strong students – teachers (school staff) relationship.

Dealing with obsession with firearms

Obsession with firearms is a warning signs of a potential threat. Many mass shooters in school shootings are obsessed with firearm arsenals prior to the shootings and mass murders.

Healthy social-emotional behaviours and habits in schools is a viable public health strategic tool to eliminate obsession with firearms.

The constitutional standing of the Second Amendment  in US should neither protect nor get in the way of regarding those who openly express obsessions with firearms arsenals and confess the willingness to kill others as exhibiting social-emotional misbehaviours and as such are dangerous to health.

Expressing a constitutional right of privacy of a citizen should not be detrimental to others’ lives. School professionals, public health workers and law enforcements agents should be properly guided.

Stringent background checks should not be limited to licensed firearms dealers as in US but should be universal  Anyone with a demonstrated record of criminal violence or misuse of guns or mental health issues who threatens others with gun or firearms should be prohibited from any form of gun possession and access to assault firearms.

Much more effort needs to be made to ensure that these individuals are recorded into the background check system to prevent future purchases and their current weapons taken away

Meting out appropriate disciplinary actions and exclusionary practices

In as much as cultivating healthy social-emotional behaviours will reduce the rate of disciplinary actions, schools should not hesitate to suspend or expel a students with gun violent or mass murder motive and recommend that full social and emotional learning be done for the student until he can be ascertained to be able to maintain satisfactory level of social-emotional behaviours suitable to ensure public health safety.

Such will deal with any psychological effect that student suffers due to the exclusionary practices.

Gun violence and firearms restraining orders (red flag laws)

Red flag laws colloquially known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) in US allow family members and law enforcement agents to restrict or temporarily remove a person’s access to firearms by ordering the seizure of weapons when their behaviour suggests that they pose a violent threat to themselves and others.

2. Banning violent video games

I have taken my time on several occasions to observe children’s reactions as aftermath effect of seeing violent video games and action movies. They tend to practise what they see on media at homes, in the classroom, as the captivating imagery of the actions replay in the memory.

So, I quite agree with US President, Donald Trump who has tried to blame incidents like mass shootings by young perpetrators on violence in media despite lack of research evidence and US Supreme Court in 2011 against a law suit based on the assertion that violent video games promote real-life violence.

Banning violent video games is unlikely to happen in many modern societies but children learn more and better by what they see (Observational learning). The question is how could a mass shooter have perpetrated mass shooting well enough to kill a handful of persons when he hadn’t seen mass shootings anywhere in his life?

Image credit: blog.spectator.co.uk

3. Banning Assault weapons and firearms

Citizens of a few countries of the world have constituted rights to keep and bear arms with certain proviso. Switzerland, Czech Republic and UK legalised the bearing of firearms with certain stipulations.  Two of the five countries that legalised bearing of assault weapons – US and Mexico have recorded the highest number of school shooting incidents from 1st January 2009 to 23rd May, 2018 – both totalling 296 incidents. 288 of those incidents came from US and it is the only country that legalised arm-bearing that does not include explicit restrictive conditions. 

Many in US see banning assault weapons an appropriate first step to keeping the highly lethal weapons beyond reach for good and bad actors equally. It is to me the best preventive measure of school shootings internationally. It keeps the society safe even when every other preventive measure fails. In simple terms, ‘’You can’t use arms when you don’t have them.’’

Written by Ekene Ifechukwu

Ekene Ifechukwu is an education writer. He has over 7 years of experience in teaching and tutoring. He has taught in primary and secondary schools. He has affection for training children and young people. He aims at improving other people's lives through education.

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