Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families who have suffered loss in tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Like so many parents, I remember walking my son and daughter to their first days of school, a place where they need to be safe.
Discussions now unfolding about gun control, video games or other aspects of American culture are important, but there is no certainty they will have an impact on this threat to our safety and security. Even if we can all agree on the “right” approach (snowball’s chance in…), such changes would take years.
We can make our schools and gathering places safer today:
1. Know How to Respond
- The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recommends an approach that can be summed up as 1. Run, 2. Hide or 3. Fight (card, poster and video).
- DHS also offers an Active Shooter Awareness Virtual Roundtable for critical infrastructure members on this threat.
- FEMA offers additional training resources
2. Help Keep our Schools Safe
- The US Department of Education provides a guide entitled Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools including:
- Tips for Adults on How to Talk with Children about Connecticut School Shooting
- Age-specific Tips for Talking to Children in Trauma (flyer)
3. Stop the Copycat
News media is not necessarily focused on preparing viewers to prevent and respond to threats like active shooters. It is not their business model nor is it their responsibility.
They do, however, have a responsibility to talk about these events in a way that doesn’t feed the twisted fantasy of the next would-be shooter. The names Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold became household names on April 20th, 1999 after they killed classmates, teachers and themselves at Columbine High School.
Research indicates and the FBI believes there is a “copycat” effect where dramatized events serve to inspire someone who may be contemplating acting violently. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides guidance for reducing the copycat effect in suicides. Many, but not all active shooters are suicidal. Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide may help to reduce the copycat effect on all would-be shooters.
Members of the media can do this successfully! We can make a real difference here; 1) comment on articles, 2) write to editors, producers and publishers, and 3) stop circulating trashy or sensational coverage on Facebook or other social media.