Thoughts on the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut Transcript & Links

Newtown, CT Shooting – Initial Thoughts from Safe Havens International on Vimeo.

Links to information on the school shootings and violence mentioned in this video:

Our Lady of the Angels school fire:

Bath School Disaster:

School Attacks in China:

Australian Machete Attack At School:

Canada – École Polytechnique massacre (1989)

Canada – Dawson College Shooting (2006):

School attack in Toulouse, France:

Safe Havens blog on the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting:

Full Transcript:

Safe Havens analysts have been doing almost non-stop interviews with the national, international and local media ever since this tragic school shooting occurred in Connecticut and we thought it would be appropriate to post this.

We want to first express, from all of our analysts and volunteers, our deep regrets and sympathies to this community that suffered this terrible tragedy. We’ve been trying to get a message out through the media and often it has come through, but we just want to try to emphasize to people that it is very difficult in situations like this, where we see such a terrific and horrible loss of life with particularly such young children, and it is easy for these thoughts to overwhelm us and we cant let individuals like this and those in the past take away from our children what the school experience can and should be, and one thing I think is important for us is to keep these events in context its easy to become frightened and we do need to be concerned.

I don’t in any way want to undermine how terrible these events are, however we do need to remind people that, statistically, your child is more likely to be killed by lightning than by gunfire at school in the United States. The school homicide rate has dropped dramatically over the last 30 years. Many people perceive that it has increased – it has actually decreased for a variety of reasons that we wont go into at this time – but it has decreased.

We are afraid of the grizzly bear, the great white shark and the rattlesnake, but collisions with white-tailed deer kill many more people, infinitely more in a single month, than are killed by those three animals in over a decade. We’re afraid of these types of creatures, but the bumblebee . . . people dying from allergic reactions . . . they’re dying in the thousands of this compared to the very few attacks by the animals that I just mentioned.

So we have to be careful of that when we talk about school safety. There are other concerns that also have to be addressed when it comes to school safety. And keeping things in context can help people emotionally as well. So again, I don’t want to undermine this terrible tragedy, but we have to be thoughtful in our reactions.  If we’re going to make improvements in school safety and emergency preparedness we urge that it be done thoughtfully and not as a knee jerk reaction to a single event.

We’ve worked many tragic school shootings and every one is different from the last. We also caution people to be slow to pass judgment on schools when these events occur.  I’ve worked many of these cases as an expert witness and often what I see when I see the entire case file differs from the popular perception and what is often reported. It takes a lot of time to get the facts out on these cases. The Connecticut state police and local authorities have a huge task in front of them, so we urge caution and patience and context with these situations.

There are many things that can be done to make schools safer and reduce the chances that such events will occur, however, unfortunately there are no hundred percent guarantees, there are no methods, there is no law we can pass, no technology we can buy nor training that can be done that can absolutely eliminate these threats. We can and have reduced the danger. But we have to be realistic, and do understand that like our house or a place of worship or a place of work or a mall or a movie theater, there is risk anywhere in the world that you go.

Mass causality school weapons assaults happen across the globe, they are not something new. There are changes in some of the patterns, but our first mass casualty school weapons assault occurred in 1764 in a one-room schoolhouse. Our most lethal attack was in 1958 using fire, the second most lethal was an explosion, an intentional bombing of a school in 1927 in Bath Michigan.

There are mass casualty events in Chinese schools and in schools in Europe, Canada, Australia, so this is not a tragedy or a problem that’s unique to American schools.  So we want to work in a positive way to try to reduce the chances that such events will occur. And we can and should do that, and our schools, I think, have been doing an excellent job along with the assistance from the local public safety agencies and our federal and state government agencies.  We just want to give people context to this in this tragic time.