Teachers now flock to active shooter training. Can we do more to prevent school shootings?

White roses with the faces of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting were attached to a telephone pole near the school on the one-month anniversary of the shooting that left 26 dead in Newtown, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

The AJC has a sobering package this weekend on school safety that’s worth your time.

AJC education reporter Rose French has an excellent MyAJC.com story on heightened security efforts in Georgia schools. French cites a recent active shooter training seminar in Cobb attended by 800 educators who were taught to “Avoid, Deny and Defend.”

Police told the crowd that 20 of the 32 people killed during the 2007 Virginia Tech attack were shot lying in the fetal position and said the chances of survival are better if you fight back. They recommended: Move away from the source of the threat as quickly as possible, create barriers to prevent or slow down the threat and use any objects at your disposal as possible weapons, such as fire extinguishers, to fight off attackers.

“We just want to encourage them that if this situation happens, don’t just die. There is something you can do,” said Marietta police officer Brittany Wallace. “If there’s an active shooter, it doesn’t mean it’s all over.

There is also a fascinating essay in the AJC on preventing school shootings by Dewey G. Cornell, who holds the Bunker Chair in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and directs the Virginia Youth Violence Project.

In his piece, which you can read here in full, Cornell reports there are 84,000 nonfatal injuries and 33,000 deaths every year involving guns, which breaks down to 320 shootings and 90 deaths every day.

But, despite those high numbers, Cornell says school shootings remain rare:

According to FBI crime statistics, most homicides, including most multi-victim homicides, occur in homes, not schools. Children are almost 100 times more likely to be murdered outside of school than at school. Restaurants have 10 times more shootings than schools, yet there has been no demand for arming waitpersons or conducting restaurant shooting drills.

He encourages the use of a prevention practice called threat assessment, which he says can be conducted for students in schools as well as individuals in the community. Cornell notes:

In response to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Virginia legislation mandated that its public schools implement threat assessment teams. Nearly 2,000 Virginia public schools now have multidisciplinary threat assessment teams composed of educators, mental health professionals and law enforcement officers who investigate student threats of violence. The focus of these teams is to identify troubled individuals, assess the seriousness of their threatening statements or behavior, and respond with appropriate interventions. The response can range from counseling to incarceration.

Reader Comments 0

7 comments
Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

What can be done to prevent school shootings?

First, you must understand the shooters and why they target schools and not police stations.  Schools are soft targets and police stations are not.  Criminologists who study such things have interviewed countless felons and the one thing they fear more than being arrested, or dogs, or alarm systems, or any of that other stuff, is to be confronted by an armed citizen during the commission of their crime.

Georgia has taken the first step in making her colleges a harder target by expansion of the carry permits onto college campuses.  No longer can the bad guy walk onto campus with the assurance that no one there has the ability to fight back.

K-12 schools much harder to defend.  

CSpinks
CSpinks

@Lee_CPA2 "(F)elons...fear..to be confronted by an armed citizen," particularly if that armed citizen is a deputy sheriff flanked by his partner. Let's put two deputy sheriffs in each GA middle and high school, one in each elementary school, and let's see what happens to the number of serious incidents in them.


Aw, we don't have the money. Anyone who thinks that is either kidding him-/herself or ignorant. Any state that is pouring millions of dollars into the creation of tests of suspect validity and reliability has the money to protect its students.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Lee_CPA2 No, schools are targeted because that is one place they can do the MOST damage the most quickly.  If you are mentally ill, it makes the biggest statement of your grievance.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I have had a few students that I feared over the last decade.  These are kids who WILL perpetrate some kind of terrible harm in their lives, unless they have some intervening incident.


At school, I worried more about ***$*** crazy parents.  How do "threat assessment teams" help with that?  School personnel are confronted by parents upset by the terms of their divorces, or many other things.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Wascatlady


That is precisely why I support the community-based school model of the Democratic legislative caucus in Georgia's General Assembly.


Moreover, that is why I, also, support Dr. Steven Green's instructional/community model for the DeKalb County School System in his plan to involve students, teachers, administrators, and parents in the overall education of their students/children.  One cannot assist parents, with their own psychological problems, until one has first won their trust.  An overall school model in this direction would help to build that trust.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

This is incredibly sad to read.  As a society, we have lost focus upon what is important.  The mentally ill, in all degrees, need help in America.  We must turn our attention there.  It appears from the article, above, that the state of Virginia is starting to do that.