Another School Shooting- What to Do?
By Matt Singleton
February 16, 2018
Another School Shooting
As another mass school shooting cycles through it’s stages- grief, anger, speeches, social media flame wars- I ask myself what can I do? How can I be proactive in stopping this from happening again, how do I keep my children safe?
The politicians will go through the usual motions, for sure.There may be legislation introduced. It may or may not gain any traction. Some folks may feel compelled to act politically, in one manner or another- this is your prerogative and right as an American. It still begs the question- what to do in the meantime?
So Many Red Flags
One takeaway seems clear- there were many warning signs in the Parkland shooting, and many instances where the system failed. Nikolas Cruz was a very disturbed, and volatile young man. He seems to have fallen through the holes in our society’s safety nets. All his classmates seemed to know he was a threat. The school he was expelled from seemed to know he was a threat. Also, it is now being reported that the FBI had not only received reports of threatening YouTube comments (that were untraceable), but also had information that he had made a credible, specific threat as recently as January. This is not unlike other incidents, like the shooter in Texas, who had been dishonorably discharged from the Airforce, who also failed to follow reporting procedures that would have disqualified him from purchasing firearms.
So, what to do? The problem is vast and complex, filled with fractious politics, and inefficient bureaucracies. Passions run high. Personally, as a parent, and someone who works for a company that lives and breathes preparedness training, the politics are kind of beside the point. I am, and have been for some time, aware that violence happens, and when it does, it pays no heed to politics, faith, or personal status. I have taught and trained my kids to pay attention to their surroundings, to recognize the signs of potential violence, and to recognize behavioral changes in their peers. If something doesn’t look or smell right, it usually isn’t. I have taught them to be vocal about it, and I also pay attention to them. I ask them about their day, what happened, how are their friends, what is going on? I put my cell phone down, and pay attention. And even as I say this, I know I can do better.
I think as parents, we must all be proactive in talking to schools about active shooter training. Both the high-school my daughter attends, and the university my son attends rely on publicly-sourced training programs that are badly outdated, and mostly consist of a “lock-down” drill. That is not enough. We need to be teaching our schools that an active shooter incident is a fluid, dynamic situation, where critical thinking and quick action can save lives. We can find a stellar example of this in Zackary Walls, and Colton Haab, two young JROTC captains, who probably saved some lives in Parkland. We need to be talking about situational awareness, normalcy bias, and red flags. We need to show our kids that they can fight back if they have no other choice. We must give them the tools to survive if violence comes to their campus.
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Photo: (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)