School Shootings Will Continue

The Window of Life is a tool to help school employees reduce danger to themselves and others in a school crisis situation.  The Window of Life is especially important for active shooter incidents where calling 911 before communicating the need for a lockdown can cause a lengthy delay in taking protective actions that can save lives while law enforcement officers are on the way – even when officers are assigned to the campus where the attack is taking place.

The Window of Life is a tool to help school employees reduce danger to themselves and others in a school crisis situation. The Window of Life is especially important for active shooter incidents where calling 911 before communicating the need for a lockdown can cause a lengthy delay in taking protective actions that can save lives while law enforcement officers are on the way – even when officers are assigned to the campus where the attack is taking place.

School shooting Incidents will not end Soon

One question reporters often ask me is what can be done to make sure there are no more school shootings. Though I am an optimist by nature, I do not anticipate an eradication of school shootings in my lifetime. There are a variety of reasons for this. We are nation with many people with a propensity for violence that is well entrenched in our culture.   Though gun control measures have helped make school shootings rare in countries like the People’s Republic of China, even the death penalty for ammunition and firearms possession has not been able to completely eliminate mass casualty school shootings there.  According to an article in the Economist last year, approximately 5,000 people are victims of shootings annually in China even though private ownership of any type of firearm has been in place for more than sixty years. In a nation lacking this type of draconian criminal justice system and with more than 300 million firearms in private hands, it does not appear that there is any simple legislative measure that will effectively prevent some people from getting their hands on guns to carry out school attacks. As the dozens mass casualty school attacks in China demonstrate, offenders will also likely simply switch to alternative weapons such as knives. Knives have been used to kill as many as fourteen victims in a single school attack in China. As we point out in Staying Alive – How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters, between 200 and 300 elementary school children and employees have been seriously injured and murdered in mass casualty attacks in the People’s Republic of China in recent years.

School security is still inadequate in many schools

In addition, there are still numerous K12 schools that lack even some of the most basic school security measures. In spite of clear indications that school shootings can occur in public, private, charter, parochial and independent schools in any community, there are many schools that lack effective prevention measures. These factors and others combined with the massive number of schools in our nation make it likely that school shootings will continue to take place here just as they have occurred in Canadian, Chinese and German schools.

Many school shootings can be prevented

Thus, it is my belief that school shootings will sadly continue to be part of our national landscape. However, school shootings are not inevitable at individual schools per se. The good news is that individual school organizations that take the threat of violence seriously can do a great deal to reduce the chances that they will experience a school shooting. In fact, my experience has been that the reduction in risk for school shootings can be dramatic. By focusing on a multifaceted approach to school violence prevention using evidence-based approaches, the average school can make the chances they will experience a school shooting remote. This is borne out by the lack of school weapons incidents at school districts around the nation that have maintained a perfect track record in spite of intensive local risk factors for school violence. It is important that we study school shooting that take place. At the same time, it is imperative that we also study schools where school weapons violence would be expected, but has not taken place. We must take time to study not only our tragedies but our many successes as well.

 

Close Call While Researching Sequel to Staying Alive – How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters

This elite anti-poaching team helps patrol the more than 1.3 million square miles of Coutada 11 and 12 in the Zambeze Delta Region.  Combined with teams that patrol on foot, these brave men face extremely tough conditions in the bush to combat poachers.  Though poaching is still a challenge, wildlife populations have bounced back remarkably well since these efforts were initiated.  U.S. Military special operators could learn from these determined men.

This elite anti-poaching team helps patrol the more than 1.3 million square miles of Coutada 11 and 12 in the Zambeze Delta Region. Combined with teams that patrol on foot, these brave men face extremely tough conditions in the bush to combat poachers. Though poaching is still a challenge, wildlife populations have bounced back remarkably well since these efforts were initiated. U.S. Military special operators could learn from these determined men.

A portion of the leg-hold traps the anti-poaching team has confiscated in the past year.  These leg-hold traps are called Jennies and are made from old car door springs.  Wire snares are far more prevalent because they are easier to make and transport.  Trapped animals are finished off with spears with blades fashioned from re-bar and set in a bamboo pole.  Though crude, these spears will penetrate the hide of a buffalo or an elephant.

A portion of the leg-hold traps the anti-poaching team has confiscated in the past year. These leg-hold traps are called Jennies and are made from old car door springs. Wire snares are far more prevalent because they are easier to make and transport. Trapped animals are finished off with spears with blades fashioned from re-bar and set in a bamboo pole. Though crude, these spears will penetrate the hide of a buffalo or an elephant.

After they found and freed a female Reedbuck caught by the neck in a wire snare, Gorchie, Albino and Poen were able to locate this extremely well-concealed poacher’s camp.  They confiscated a considerable amount of meat and supplies before burning the camp.  The poachers had walked more than 30 miles to set up this operation.  Meat poachers kill many animals they never recover and can kill an astounding number of animals ranging from small antelope to lions and buffalo.

After they found and freed a female Reedbuck caught by the neck in a wire snare, Gorchie, Albino and Poen were able to locate this extremely well-concealed poacher’s camp. They confiscated a considerable amount of meat and supplies before burning the camp. The poachers had walked more than 30 miles to set up this operation. Meat poachers kill many animals they never recover and can kill an astounding number of animals ranging from small antelope to lions and buffalo.

Close Call During Research Visit for Sequel to Staying Alive- How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters

Research for the sequel for Staying Alive – How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters has been a most interesting experience thus far.  During the past two weeks, I have had the privilege to interview and observe three of the most fearless men I have ever met.  I also had the opportunity to observe them operate under pressure in a situation that was likely more dangerous than any I faced in twenty years as a law enforcement officer.

Relevance to School Crisis Preparedness

The first in a series of interviews with men and women who must routinely handle life and death situations, this experience occurred in the forests and swamps of Sofala Province of Mozambique.  While their work bears little resemblance to the field of education at first glance, they provided valuable lessons for school and public safety officials here in the United States.  This interview did not involve S.W.A.T. officers or military special operators.  Though I will also be interviewing these types of experts for the project, this effort focused on three men who make very different types of high-stakes decisions in an environment where emergency assistance is typically hours if not days away when catastrophe strikes.

Close Encounter

I knew the trip would be an adventure, I did not anticipate that a series of sudden shifts in the wind would result in our group being surrounded on two sides by a large heard of Cape Buffalo. Weighing in at more than 1,500 pounds, Cape Buffalo are one of the most dangerous animals on the continent.  Having the fringes of a heard of about 150 of these massive beasts 6-8 yards from our group in heavy cover could have resulted in a violent and grisly death for all four of us had these men not shown amazing control.

Life-saving Lessons from the bush

Sadly, I also had the opportunity to observe these men attempt to track a group of poachers who had hacked off the tusks of a large bull elephant.  Unfortunately, the poachers had a full-day head start and had made it to the nearest town before we were able to take up the track.

Poen, Gorchie and Albino with the carcass of an old bull elephant.  Though they were able to track the team of poachers, it readily became apparent from the age of their tracks that they had already made their escape.

Poen, Gorchie and Albino with the carcass of an old bull elephant. Though they were able to track the team of poachers, it readily became apparent from the age of their tracks that they had already made their escape.

I was able to learn quite a bit about how critical trust between team mates is when faced with imminent and severe danger.  I was also blessed to be able to observe first-hand just how well experts can retain their composure under these types of trying conditions.  I am looking forward to the interviews with other types of experts who are among the best in the world at staying alive and saving the lives of others.

School Sexual Assault Part of a Game?

School Sexual Assault

A senior at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH  sexually assaulted a fifteen year old classmate.  The police investigation revealed that the assault may have been part of a competition.  The assaulter and his friends were competing to see who could “hook up” the most before the end of the school year.  The assaulter is facing seven felony charges, but the others involved in the “game” may not be charged.

Some precepts of Title IX

School Sexual Assault Analysis

K12 schools, and higher education institutions, are covered under Title IX, part of a federal law that prohibits sexual discrimination.  Recent guidance from the Obama Administration warns schools that waiting to start an inquiry into sexual crime allegations until after a police investigation has been concluded is unacceptable.  Sexual violence is viewed under the law as an extreme form of hostile environment/sexual harassment and must be addressed.

Schools need to plan for sexual assaults on their campus.  Remaining compliant with Title IX means knowing how to secure a crime scene for law enforcement.  It also means placing a top priority on reporting sexual assaults to the proper authorities.

In Indiana, and specifically in my school district, we not only contact law enforcement, but the Division of Child Services.  We also conduct our own internal investigation, ensuring not to interfere with other investigations.  Policies and guidelines should be in place concerning disseminating video files, if applicable, as well as other aspects of coordination with local and state agencies.

Any report of school sexual assault should generate an immediate, comprehensive response by the school.