Charter and Private Schools Are Not Thinking About Violence
But They Should Be!
Allow me to start by clarifying my expertise in this matter. I am a former police officer and a medical professional. I have degrees in criminal psychology, criminal justice, emergency management, and public administration. I own a security, preparedness, and safety consulting and contracting firm. I specialize in mass shootings for schools and hospital, and medical facility and large complex safety. That being said, I have noticed there are some places that are not eager to seek the services and or training needed to make themselves better served to protect their students, patients, and patrons. They all share the common thought, that it can't happen to them. Unfortunately, we live in a time when there are no more impossibilities.
You see, for the longest time, everyone thought it couldn't happen to them. Outside of the occasional shooting, indeed, the running joke was going postal because of postal workers going insane, these types of things never happened. The University of Texas was the first modern example of this. After that, is was almost exclusively a postal worker trait. Then in 1999, Columbine High School happened, and it changed everything. For the first time in recent memory, kids had to live with the fact that something could get to them while at school. It was also the first time we were forced to come to the realization, the police were minutes away when seconds count.
In 1999 when the two kids shot up Columbine, there was mass media frenzy and public hysteria, for good reason. It was unchartered territory. The things that were learned were many, and they were sobering. We learned that there were warning signs all around if we choose to pay attention. We also learned that, as far as we think we have come in inclusion and anti-bullying, we had to come a million more miles. What makes things worse is we haven't come any further in the 20 years since! But this isn't about pointing fingers and politics, it is about teaching and why the normal thought process is way wrong.
In churches, major and small hospitals, private and charter schools, and other places of business and institutions, there is very little being done to curb the threat of an active shooter. Let's focus specifically on private and charter schools this time. I have clients I have tried to get to include armed security to their security protocols, and each time I am told the same thing. "It's intimidating to the kids, and besides it has never happened to a charter or private or Christian school." Think about this mindset. It has never happened to us, so that must mean it can't happen to us! 20 years ago, school shootings were in the farthest reaches of our imaginations, now they seem to happen every couple of weeks. Police and Sheriff agencies are training feverishly to be ready for the next one. They don't want it to happen; but these days, you just don't know and you can't be too safe.
Many people's children are in these private, charter, or Christian schools, and seemingly have lots of money. While that's not entirely true, they are thought of to be more on the affluent side of society. For some reason, we have equated this to mean they are untouchable. This couldn't be further from the truth! The fact of the matter is, that once the public schools and universities have gotten this under control, there is only one place left for these kids to go to. That is the schools that, "it can't happen to." I equate it to the same thinking the banking industry had, too big to fail. They failed, didn't they? It's a miracle it hasn't happened yet really. Mental illness is just as prevalent there as anywhere else. You see, the only reason it hasn't happened there yet is luck!
These schools aren't insulated, they are just in a location that is has taken longer for the bad things to affect them, but it is coming. We sensationalize everything in this country. We hold school shooters up in the media and make them heroes. It is never their fault, it is the fault of someone, or something, else. The simple truth of the matter is it is all of our faults. We help contribute to these kids and people as a society. We tell them they can do anything, and they are entitled to anything they want, and then the real world hits them and they can't handle it. There is nowhere this is more accurate than in the school types mentioned above. I have heard these kids talking when I am doing training for the staff. I have heard the older kids talk about how it would be easy to pull off in a school like that, because of the lack of security.
You see, the fact is, the world we live in a very scary place for adults, let alone kids. When children are scared, they are more likely to act out. Parents never want to think their children are capable of such terror, but the fact of the matter is we all are. The standard "it can't happen here" thinking is exactly what got us here in the first place. If you think just because these kids come from money, and a lot of them don't, or they have cameras and different ways of securing the building that makes them impervious, you are a part of the problem. What child doesn't want to be thought of as supernatural, whether it's in a good way or a bad way? When the media sensationalizes these shooters, a lot of kids, especially the ones with mental issues, think it is a cool thing and a great way to become famous. Once we start to think as parents and adults and realize we are not impervious to these heinous acts of violence, we can finally start to be truly prepared for these acts of violence against our communities.