Before and After Bang: Treatment and prevention of celebrity violence in our schools

by Rob Morse

The school safety movement is growing. Parents, school staff, and law enforcement officers are working together. They are slowly solving the complex and interrelated issues of protecting our students from armed murderers in our schools. We see varied solutions from school to school and from state to state. There is much to learn as we protect our children.

The “solutions” to school safety aren’t simple, but they are achievable.

Whether simple or complex, whether easy or difficult, as parents, we demand that the school protect our children when we can’t.

“We want our kids back the same way we gave them to you.” only slightly smarter each day.

There are overlapping layers of protection for our schools the same way we protect our homes. To start, some safety programs try to prevent mass murderers before they reach the schoolhouse door. Other programs try to reduce the damage an attack can cause by changing the physical features and procedures at school. Still others try to quickly stop the attacks, and then to save the lives of those who are injured. Each approach brings important benefits, though some are easier to appreciate than others.

Our view of “school safety” is distorted by the news media. Many of the plans to kill our kids are uncovered and stopped without loss of life. School security gets better every day as more of us see something and say something. Fortunately, local officials often do something when they receive a tip. School districts across the country now have plans to not only report both bullying and threats, but also to act on these reports. Those preventative actions are great news and seldom gets the credit they deserve. These murderers leave clues, and we often detect them.

A mass murderer isn’t born overnight. A violent attack on our schools or churches is the end of a long chain of events. As we work back to the beginning, we find a regular pattern of what we do right and what we sometimes do wrong. We see a number of causative factors in a series. A person doesn’t become a mass murderer for a single reason. That means each factor contributes to the problem, or the solution, depending on your perspective.

You’ve seen relationships like this before. Lots of things have “causative factors.” Not everyone who smokes develops lung cancer, but smoking is still a strong contributor to cancer. Not everyone who is overweight develops heart disease and diabetes, though obesity is a significant factor in both diseases. We see many factors that contribute to celebrity violence.

  • Keep your marriage intact because most mass murderers come from a broken home.
  • Be an engaged parent and monitor what your child sees and the games they play. Violent entertainment normalizes aggression.
  • Therapists and teachers should report individuals who are obviously disturbed.
  • The media should stop breeding the next generation of celebrity murderers. Our kids and their friends watched the media turn murderers into rock-stars.
  • Report bullying and threats to local officials.
  • Schools, therapists and law enforcement should act on threats to students and the school.
  • Make our schools as secure as our homes and businesses.
  • Harden our classrooms the way we harden our bedrooms and offices. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
  • Train and equip school staff to stop a physical threat at their school until police arrive.
  • Train school staff to treat the injured until EMTs arrive.
  • Your local school should conduct a safety audit to see if they live up to their safety plan.

Those well accepted recommendations are easy to say, but take effort to accomplish. A frequent objection to each school safety plan is that the proposed plan is imperfect. There is always more we could do to protect our kids. We can always study more options...forever.

Too often, a plan’s limitations are used as an excuse for inaction. A more realistic approach is to start simply and then improve the plan over time. Adopt a security plan your school can implement in 3 months, then in 6 months, and then revise the plan again each year. Responsible administrators made our schools safer year after year.

Looking back at the list of safety recommendations, we’ve made progress across these all of these areas.. with one exception. When it comes to school safety, we’ve largely ignored the murderers' motives and rewards.

Many disturbed men and women murder our children to receive a billion-dollar media publicity campaign. These murderers may have been anonymous nobodies a few days ago. They may have been disliked and shunned, but once they kill our kids, then everyone knows their name.

Fortunately, we can put that news media celebrity-genie back into the bottle. We have done so several times before. (with a second source here) Our news media is the first to report headline news, but they are the last to learn from these attacks.

Let’s send the media back to school until they get it right.