Another school shooting. I’ve lost count. I desperately want to express “the correct” reaction because now-a-days there are a bevy of experts at the ready to pick apart anyone’s life and offer a conclusion that neatly fits in the latest narrative box. Much of the public stands at the ready to accept these expert opinions. Thus begins the next vicious, unhelpful cycle of asking, “Why?” with the standard reply of, “Legislation.”
Never mind the facts of all that happened in the perpetrator’s life and all the paths that crossed that single life.
Disregard the infinite number of choices and decisions made by the perpetrator and the real life people who knew the perpetrator by name. And what of society? Do we believe our actions have no consequences? Actually, do we believe our inactions have no consequences?
My first reaction is what security protocols are in place? What did the school do to take preventative measures? This includes not only the physical structures, but also the more neglected idea of, “See something, say something.” It’s a catchy phrase, but it doesn’t translate in any practical sense. Meaning, what is someone to do when he sees something suspicious or concerning? Many people will question their gut-feelings and succumb to their doubts. After all, what does “suspicious” mean anyway? What if they end up being wrong? Surely, this person has already been reported to the authorities, so some important organization is keeping track, right? So, they say nothing.
When someone is ready to say something, what does that mean? Whom do they call? If they know whom to call, what is the phone number? Will they be recorded? Do they have to give their name? What is the process? Is there any confidence that the reporting person will not be ignored or, worse, targeted? The potential fallout on the reporter is usually too high a burden to bear. How do you prove a negative? Meaning, how can it be known that a school shooting that never happened was prevented because a concerned and proactive community “saw something and said something?”
Next, should the preventative protocols fail, what training does the campus receive regarding being attacked? I’ve taken the online Department of Defense security briefing regarding an active shooter. It was beyond depressing. Unbelievably, if directly attacked, I am instructed to use whatever objects are around me to defend myself. What am I going to do, have a pair of scissors in one hand and stapler in the other? I’d like to think a roomful of people would storm the attacker (Shanksville, PA & Paris 15:17 come to mind), but whom am I kidding? Getting a roomful of people to band together to do most anything is nearly impossible, let alone risk life and limb.
Why does the community show up for marches, but not talk to the principal or attend school board meetings? This is how the community can actually effect change and make our schools safer. What is your ask? Are you willing to share it with school leadership? Will you follow-up on the progress (or non-progress)? I’d like to think I and others in the room would storm the attacker, but until that do or die day arrives, I know I can be on record with my ask. I have a meeting scheduled with my kids’ school principal.