If you followed the headlines last week, we saw multiple tragedies at schools and colleges around the globe. However, one high school in Missouri was able to prevent what could have been a potentially devastating attack.
An 18 year old student was arrested with conspiring to shoot other students at his school. There were multiple warning signs identified and fortunately two brave students came forward with information prior to his attack.
The student revealed several red flags during his planning phase:
- Tried to recruit students to help him execute shooting
- Internet research on how to make guns and other weapons
- Note on computer with statement, “I hate everything and everyone, I wanted everyone to die.”
A second student was arrested the next day after posting a Facebook message, claiming “he wasn’t going to kill anybody because he’d told police about his plan and couldn’t pull it off now.”
It is critical for schools to look for new and innovative methods for identifying red flags and warning signs so they can prevent incidents like the tragedies above. If those students had not come forward, the attacker’s plan may have been executed.
The Department of Education and Secret Service School Safety report revealed that at least one other person had some type of knowledge of the attacker’s plan in 81% of school shooting incidents.
However, one of the most concerning things is that students are not reporting suspicious comments, acts of violence, bullying, harassment, etc. out of fear of peer abuse or retaliation, they don’t feel their reports will be kept anonymous or they don’t trust the administration to act on their reports.
It is critical for schools to implement safe, anonymous and non-retaliatory reporting procedures, policies, plans, and training for students and faculty to identity warning signs of violence. At the recent White House Conference on Bullying, experts agreed listening to students is critical and it is important to develop simple and effective incident reporting processes.
How are your schools working to improve prevention, encourage students to come forward with information, protect communities and save lives?