One trend we have noted that started with the deadly attack at Columbine High School, continued with the horrific Virginia Tech shooting and has returned with the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut is that people often rush out seeking simple solutions to age – old problems of school safety.
Though these horrific incidents shock us we should recall that mass casualty attacks at schools pre-date much of what is being discussed today. A dangerously mentally ill school board member murdered more than 40 people in Bath Michigan in 1927 with explosives and the most lethal attack at an American school to date claimed the lives of 95 victims. The first mass casualty attack at a school in America took place in 1764 in a one room school house in Pennsylvania and only one student survived the brutal attack.
As we debate a variety of measures including arming teachers, gun control and teaching students and staff to attack an active shooter, we should remember that we should take care to implement efforts that have been proven to work while we debate those that we think might help. Such debates are healthy in a free country and are certainly important. At the same time, we are ignoring many tried and true strategies in most school in our nation while we spend a great deal of time and energy talking about concepts that are not yet proven to work. While we our nation’s experts and system of government work on ideas that may help to address the highly complex issues of school safety, let us avoid the trap of seeking simple solutions while ignoring life-saving concepts that have worked for decades.
Having helped perform school security assessments for more than 5,000 public and non-public schools as well as having worked after the fact for hundreds of school crisis incidents, our analysts feel strongly that there is no one simple solution that will effect a dramatic reduction in the homicide rate in our nation’s schools. Many of the proven concepts that have been implemented over the past 30 years have helped to reduce the school homicide rate dramatically yet are still not being utilized by the majority of U.S. public and non-public schools.
We urge people to adopt what we know will help reduce death in our schools while we continue the important debates relating to school safety.