Learning from Shooters

How can we protect children from shooters? How can we prevent potential shooters from feeling so isolated and depressed they see no way out but death? How can we protect children from bullying? How can we change schools so they meet the social and emotional needs of children?

We can teach them. We can recognize what needs to be taught and incorporate prevention activities, including social skills, refusal skills and how to deal with bullies, along with academics. We can teach and discuss The Golden Rule, what it means to treat others the way you want to be treated and why that is important.

Sixty percent of shooters kill themselves, but a NOVA reporter’s recent interview is instructive. A surviving shooter, Andy Williams, says part of the reason he took lives was because of the taunting by students at his new school. He says he did not tell his parent or ask for help because he felt he should be man enough to deal with the situation himself. He lied to his dad about the bruises and cuts he sustained from the bullies at school.

Andy said, “I wish I was brave enough to tell someone what was going on with me. I wish I was like, courageous enough to confront, you know what I mean, everything that was happening to me.”
The reporter asks, “Why did you hold back from your father?”
“I don’t know, man. I think I like, I think I was just ashamed to like – confront like my failure.”

- NOVA The mind of a rampage killer series. Episode: 650 Original Air Date 02-20-13
Andy Williams, San Diego shooter, March 5, 2001…Santana HS…life without parole.

Clearly he and other students need to be taught how to prevent bullying, how to speak up for the victim, how to build teams of students who support and care about one another as part of a prevention effort needed in education today.

Teams do the following :

- provide inclusion (which satisfies the universal human need of belonging)
- teach communication and problem solving skills (essential to well-informed citizens)
- teach social-emotional skills (essential to developing human beings)
- teach behavioral skills (essential for success in school and life)
- give and receive honest feedback (essential to learning)
- produce change and maximize energy
- learn appropriate age group norms including The Golden Rule

“Citizens also know in their bones that the safety of the United States depends principally on the wit, skill, and spirit of a self-confident people, today and tomorrow. It is, therefore, essential–especially in a period of long-term decline in educational achievement–for government at all levels to affirm its responsibility for nurturing the Nation’s intellectual capital….

We conclude that declines in educational performance are in large part the result of disturbing inadequacies in the way the educational process itself is often conducted.”

- A Nation at Risk, 1983