Last week’s school shooting in Parkland, FL reminds us that mass killings in U.S. schools is out of control. Aside from the obvious need to control the purchase of weapons used for mass killing (e.g. AR-15), we need to provide our children, not the parents, with anonymous channels to actually “See Something, Say Something”.
What’s Really Happening
Unfortunately, most instances of #SeeSomethingSaySomething is school child to school child in the form of the natural ebb and flow of adolescent gossip. However, this is not effective. Except for the most recent shooting in Florida and a handful of other past mass school shootings since Columbine in 1999, the students knew about the threat, or suspected a fellow student was capable of the heinous act but did not notify law enforcement.
There are many reasons why students do not report suspicious behavior to the authorities. Most have to do with drawing unwanted attention to themselves because:
- They don’t want to be a nark
- They aren’t sure the threats are real
- They don’t want to get someone in “trouble”
The solution is providing our children with anonymous ways to #SeeSomethingSaySomething. We are failing in this regard. Below is a perfect example of how these types of situations are being handled in Ohio schools today.
A colleague of mine has a child in a Northeast Ohio public school system. The superintendent of schools sent out a mass email the day after the Parkland shooting, assuring the parents that the school system takes active shooter threats seriously; they prepare their staff to know what to do and the website https://www.safeschoolhelpline.com/ that students should use to report suspicious behavior. Here’s the problem. This was the first time that she, as the parent, had ever heard of this resource.
I asked her if her student knew about the website. She asked her high school student and the answer was in the form of a question, “what website?”. The parent then went further. She asked other parents within the school system and parents whose children attend other school districts nearby and the answer was a resounding NO. This is a big problem.
We need to make sure our schoolchildren know where and how to properly report aberrant behavior to the authorities.
Time to Take the Blinders Off
My colleague’s daughter also let her mother know that they did not talk about the Florida shooting at all during school. Why? We need to be honest about these incidents and remind the students over and over and over again the importance of reporting scary behavior by their peers and then direct them to specific resources to get the information to proper authorities.
Violence in American schools is unfortunately a reality in 2018. It can happen anywhere. It’s time to take the blinders off and stop “protecting” our children from disturbing information. We don’t need to be brutally honest and/or dwell on active shooter or school shootings daily, but we need to start getting real. Our schools need take the opportunity to give students specific actions to take to make #SeeSomethingSaySomething effective, especially right after a mass school shooting occurs.
The problem is not establishing these report channels, it is making them readily known. We aren’t doing this. Why not share the information on the first day of school? How about posting website and anonymous tip line numbers on posters throughout the school? If we don’t get real and empower our children with specific resources to make #SeeSomethingSaySomething useful, the next school shooting might just be at your child’s school.
Timothy Dimoff – Speaker, National Expert, Author
Tim Dimoff’s engaging and thought-provoking presentations are sure to enlighten, inform and move you into taking action on such critical issues as workplace risks, substance abuse, security and societal threats. Feel free to contact Tim today to speak at your organization.