Whenever something serious is going to happen, someone beside the potential perpetrator knows about it. In 81% of school shootings, someone knew it was going to happen before it happened.
These “red flags” may come from comments on the internet, or the actions of an individual. If educators have a good rapport with student’s they will know immediately to take action. This is not an easy task. It is difficult to read minds but it is possible to read body language, listen carefully to spoken words and understand the actions of a child in trouble.
Utilizing the school psychologist, the social worker and a consulting psychiatrist from a local hospital, parents and educators can be taught how to look for “red Flags” when they show up. Often these “red flags” will be subtle and difficult to discern. Here are some recognizable warning signs:
1. The most notable warning signs are when students become isolated. It is the nature of children to belong to a group. If they avoid groups and even friends, they would be worth watching.
2. Additional signs might include fantasies of violence, or acting out violence. This will be difficult to determine as today’s video games utilize violence on a regular basis. When observing those acts it would be valuable to see if they were connected to a specific game. If that is problematic, simply ask the student what game they are emulating. If they don’t respond, pass that information on to the school psychologist or social worker. In this school the roles of the support team may change from those of past years
3. Violence toward animals, even pets, if noticed near school or at home is an indicator of more problems to come.
4. Changes in academic performance. The lack of focus on academics as well as projects may be an indicator of a potential crisis.
5. Getting in to fights or other forms of aggresion must be monitored and dealt with in a way that will bring forth deep seeded information.
Psychologist’s and social workers are qualified, as therapists, to take caseloads for counseling. It is essential for the school to team with a local hospital that will provide the services of a consulting psychiatrist to meet with an administrator and the therapists on a monthly basis. This will allow for a discussion of students in need as well as general issues facing the school.
It is essential to bring in professionals in the area of mental health to present to school staff as well as parents. There are always signs of potential violence and these might show up anywhere. Once they are recognized, action MUST follow. These warning signs won't always lead to violence, however, when they are recognized, more observation followed by therapy would be essential to curbing school violence. Therapists must be prepared to recognize severe problems and take action. There is a point where the school action isn't sufficient. Police, then must be immediately involved and the student kept out of the school.
These are jumping off points to slow or stop violence in schools. Others would include securing the building, developing sensible gun laws, require gun safety training to all gun owners as well as community support in watching out for the children. These are all discussed in detail in my newest book, soon to be available, entitled " REPLACING THE FAILED SYSTEM OF EDUCATION: Pandemic Solutions to a 200 year old Crisis".
Cap Lee was an adminstrator of an alternative school that servesd not only students with behavior problems, but those with psychiactric problems. In a public school setting he worked with 5 therapists and a consulting psychiatrist with a student population of 75.