Knowing the Terror within Our Schools
SOC 305 Crime & Society
Instructor: Lynn Ma
October 8, 2012
Terrorism is not new and causes about one percent of deaths of school age victims every year but with media it has now become and seen as one of the scariest threats in the United States today. Learning how to prevent terrorism within a school setting has proven difficult as there is no way to profile who will or will not commit an act of terror in such a setting. There are key indicators to look at though that could possibly prevent such an act. Communication seems to be one of the most important tools and yet it seems to be the one that has in the past not been used mainly due the lack of knowledge between schools and staff, staff and students, parents and staff, parents and students, and student to student. Involving everyone in the school, parents, law enforcement, and the community are important to helping in the prevention of school violence.
Keywords: terrorism, schools, shootings
Knowing the Terror within Our Schools
Terror in our schools is not anything new with the first recorded shooting incident happening November 2, 1853 in Louisville, Kentucky. This was when a young man decided to shoot the ‘schoolmaster’ because he thought he had abused his brother the previous day, (Ward, 2002). Had the teacher or anyone else knew or had any indicators of what might possibly happen maybe this could have been prevented. The problem then even as it is now is that it is hard to spot the indicators that would give school authorities a way to prevent the terror and devastation faced afterwards. Knowing is the key word when it comes to spotting a chance of a violent act happening within any school and with larger the schools the greater and considerably more colossal effort and techniques have to be first learned and then implemented. According to Law Enforcement Intelligence (Carter, 2004), there are five key areas that are important when trying to detect a possible threat of violence. They are as follows: (a) Know how to observe, (b) Know what is suspicious, (c) Know how to report, (d) Know what to report, (e) Know what happens next and as Thomas Heffelfinger, United States attorney for the District of Minnesota put it, “We know that school violence can occur anywhere, from a suburban school in Colorado, to a rural school in Central Minnesota”. This means we all have to be ever watchful especially since there is no real way to work up a profile for a shooter within a school since according to the Secret Service there is no such thing as a “typical school shooter.” One of the first things a school needs to consider installing is a Threat Assessment Process. This helps the school and local law enforcement accumulate, assess and classify material and reports of potential attacks at the school. After appraising the threat or threats adapt methods or plans that block and or decrease the risk of such violence or threats. This is important as rarely are attacks spontaneous or impulsive. Most are caused by a buildup of emotions brought on by other happenings that have led up to an emotional outburst, in other words a type of retribution by a victim or a person that feels victimized by either the establishment, in this case a school, or people within the establishment. Ultimately in a school attack there are those, usually classmates, that know the person and what has happened to make this person so irate and some may have even heard from the person or rumors that this person is planning an attack. The problem here is that we have all made veil remarks about wanting revenge on something or someone at some point in our lives but rarely does it go beyond words and no one wants to believe that anyone that they know could do this and no one wants to believe that these things could happen where they live. It is for these reasons that classmates never think that it could happen to them or their school until too late...
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