Mass murderers kill our kids for simple reasons. Mass murder of innocents gives the murderer a powerful reward. Yes, murder pays. In fact, the payoff is huge. The payoff is also extremely reliable. As shocking as it is when our innocent children are murdered in our schools, we are not coming anywhere close to best practice in our effort to stop these horrific events.
The sad fact is that mass murderers are learning and reacting faster than we are. Murderers are learning faster than our politicians and our school officials. Murderers are certainly learning faster than our news media. It is time for parents and other concerned citizens to change that. We know how to stop these attacks. We know what to do and we’re not doing it. Here is what you can do to make our kids safer.
Where do we fall short?
The murderers learned their lessons well. Attacks follow a pattern and have a high probability of success. Some schools have a “full time” law enforcement officer at the school. That sounds good, but is a bad plan. Many schools don’t have that much protection and have to share an officer between several schools or between widely separated buildings. Stationing a law enforcement officer at the school may provide political cover for the sheriff and school board, but it is far from best practice. Are children gathered in a school location that is several minutes from the School Resource Officer? Are many children at school when there is not an armed adult protecting them? The answer is almost certainly ‘Yes!’ Are children off campus when with a school activity when they are unprotected? I’m sure they are.
Murderers learned to attack the school before staff are in place. The murderers learned to attack the School Resource Officer first, or to wait until the SRO is away from the scene. Armed volunteers who carry concealed are harder to spot. Best practice says that there should be several armed responders with children at all times. That usually means that volunteer staff carry concealed while wearing plain clothes.
We need an armed responder in every building. We want to have a responder on every hallway. For each armed responder, we’d ideally have several additional staff members who are trained in emergency trauma care. Medical training is important and achievable. Implementing an armed responder program may take months. We can provide medical training to school staff this weekend. As surprising as this claim may sound, these armed and trained staff can cost the school almost nothing.
Murderers learned that it is virtually impossible to enter a prepared and protected classroom. Preparing that classroom only cost a few dollars per door and window. The tactics used by the murderers evolved to work around that obstacle. The murderers simply pull the fire alarm. That gives the murderers a hallway full of unprotected targets.
Best practice is to let the fire alarm ring directly at the fire station and at the school offices, but to not sound the alarm within the school until the presence of a fire is verified by school staff. That might only involve verification that a smoke detector went off at the same time. It could involve video confirmation or a call to the teachers on that hallway. The appropriate response varies depending on conditions. For example, the alarm might sound inside the school if the building is thinly unoccupied over the weekend versus using a silent alarm when the building is full of students during the week.
Murderers are working around the silent alarm by bringing explosives to school. An explosion creates chaos and will probably flood the hallways. The bomb threat does other things as well. A suspicious parcel with some flares and batteries inside will keep emergency medical responders far away from the scene. That delay increases the number of deaths.
Here is what you can do
Ask your school principal when the school had their last safety audit. What were the findings? Were changes put in place to make your school safer as a result of the school safety survey? How are bullying and threats of violence reported and acted on? Those are simple questions that any concerned citizen can ask of their local school officials. Those are questions that school officials should be able to answer.
Look at the Underlying Cause of the Attacks
We reward attacks. Our culture is saturated with news and entertainment media. Young people are particularly obsessed with celebrities. Consider that our high school kids might not be able to name the governor of their state, but they can name several popular actors and singers.
We elevate these mass murders to rock-star status, and that is why these murderers kill our kids.
When you turn psychopaths into celebrities…then you get more psychopaths. The copycats take four to six weeks to hatch their plans. There were over 70 copycat attempts after the mass murder at Columbine High School. Our media coverage has only increased since that attack took place.
The personal motivation of these mass murderers is clear. Whatever their perceived grievance might be, psychopaths kill innocent people in order to receive a large fortune in free publicity. We give them that reward every time. Our major and minor news networks provide a public relations media marketing campaign for every mass murderer. Television plasters his face on the screen for hours on end. Television and radio mention his name several times an hour. That level of promotion would normally cost a company or a politician about $70 million per hour. The media provides it to the killers for free.
The media coverage is extensive and persistent. The murderer’s atrocity is reported on multiple media outlets from coast to coast. The coverage lasts for days. Think about that. How may copycat school murders could you buy, could you create, with $2 billion in publicity? Do the math yourself. We are paying to get our kids killed.
Local and National Solutions
Pass local ordinances that make it illegal to report the name and show the image of mass murderers. Ask companies and politicians to boycott media channels that promote mass murderers. At the individual level, we can talk to advertisers directly. Tell the advertiser that we won’t buy their products because they advertised on stations that put our children at risk. National legislation can follow suit.
There are two campaigns at Change.org to do that.
Ask the media to change their reporting of mass murders.
Change Federal Communications Commission regulations to block the name and face of mass murderers.
I gave you a thousand words. Please leave a comment. RM
Image: CCO Creative Commons; https://pixabay.com/en/children-tv-child-television-home-403582/