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.