School Security Assessments – Are you Un Prepared?

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As we reflect on the 2023 U.S. school shootings – there were 82 as compared to the 2022 number of 79 which included the Uvalde, Texas Robb Elementary tragedy resulting in 21 fatalities.  2024 is beginning to follow this trend with 2 school shooting incidents in January.  

 

The FBI defines a “Mass Shooting” when 4 or more people are murdered with a gun.  However, less-than-lethal student and teacher wounding and non-physically injured witnesses have lifelong trauma impact as schools and parents try to understand these senseless acts.

 

When I served as a law enforcement officer in Houston, Texas and presented training on this topic I was often asked – why is this happening, and can’t the police predict the next school shooting and stop it and – what does an active shooter look like?  These are important questions with complex answers.  

 

A historic look back at active school shootings reveals who the shooters are and, the many motivations for these acts of violence.   We found that many of the shooters are or were former students who were motivated by revenge or unresolved conflict between the shooter and the victims.  

 

Shooting suspects with no connection with the school are also increasing.  These acts of random or directed targeting are often motivated by political, religious and the shooter’s need for publicly airing his or her cause.  Many times, the shooter will “broadcast” or tell others of their plans to harm others.  Social media sites are the forum of choice by posting rambling reasons and grievances which led to this crisis event.

 

We encourage our educators clients to push this preparedness strategy to the front of their priority list.  Adopting and empowering all school staff and students to “See Something Say Something” is simple – but effective.  A well thought out written Crisis or Emergency Policy and a facility safety audit by subject matter assessment experts is the best-practice starting point.  

 

Strong leadership buy-in to safety and security practices of the school must be clear to the faculty, staff, students, and parents.  Frequent crisis drills such as Run-Hide-Fight, evacuation, and shelter in place are necessary to practice during times of calm and enact in the event of crisis.  

 

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