“We Are the Generation of School Shooters”
During a recent pilot study at a Southern California high school, our team heard the following quote from a sophomore student during a focus group: “We are the generation of school shooters.” When we spoke to the student about her statement, she expressed the fear she and other fellow students had experienced their entire lives – they had never known a time when school shootings weren’t occurring with alarming regularity. The student went on to articulate previous generations (including the majority of educators) did not grow up with the threat of mass school violence in the back of their minds – hence the reality gap between generations of today’s students and teachers.
Recently, the American Psychological Association released a study confirming this student’s observation – 3 out of 4 persons in “Generation Z” listed gun violence as the most stressing societal issue in the national news and 72% identified school shootings as a significant source of stress. Furthermore, Generation Z reported the lowest levels of mental health of any other generation, with only 45% claiming their mental health was “very good” or “excellent.”
Key Learning Points
- Understand the reality gap between the generation of your students and faculty in relation to concerns about mass school violence.
- Be forthright with your students about their fears and encourage them to share their ideas and opinions about their own safety.
- Provide your students with a healthy outlet for their nervous energy.
- Honor students’ legitimate fear about being involved in an act of mass violence. While statistically still very low, do not dismiss their anxiety as “It will never happen here.”
Can Hockey Pucks Stop an Active Shooter?
Tom Discenna, a communications professor at Oakland University in Michigan, became frustrated his classroom doors were unable to be locked in the event of an active shooting. To remedy this problem, Discenna began handing out hockey pucks to repel a potential intruder and raise awareness of his school’s security flaws. Thus far, Discenna’s campaign has raised nearly $10,000!
So, can hockey pucks really stop an active shooter? In short, yes – they can! But, so can a fire extinguisher, or a chair, or a backpack. Active shooters operate in a predatory mindset and do not typically expect resistance from their intended victims. By throwing items at an active shooter or overcoming them with physical resistance, you can disrupt their planned attack and/or incapacitate them. That being said, it’s important to remember you remain aware of your surroundings and identify items you can use to overcome an intruder. While it certainly doesn’t hurt to have intruder-specific defense items on your person or in your classroom, it’s a better idea to equip yourself with a survival mindset that allows you to adapt your defense according to your surroundings.
Key Learning Points
- According to an FBI study released in 2018, potential victims successfully ended mass shootings 80% of the time when they overcame the attacker by throwing items or using physical force!
- It’s important to cultivate a mindset of adaptable survival strategies and avoid becoming dependent on one particular option, as that option might not always be available or nearby.
- Schools should always have functioning, lockable classroom doors. Many grants and other sponsorships exist to help provide funding for security upgrades in classroom environments.
Preparing Children For Violence without Fear
The FBI defines a “Mass Shooting” as a shooting in which four or more victims (not including the suspect) are killed during the same incident. According to ABC News, 18 such shootings have occurred since the beginning of 2018. And while many of these shootings occurred outside of schools, it’s important to remember that many of the victims were students or young adults who had recently graduated from high school.
As incidents of targeted, mass violence continue to increase in our country, it’s critical to teach our youth how to respond effectively to these types of violence. Unfortunately, these types of life skills have become absolutely necessary, and without them, students can suffer physical harm or become burdened with needless anxiety. After all, mass shootings are survivable, and our youth need to know it.
Key Learning Points
- Mass shootings are survivable!
- Mass shootings, whether local or on the other side of the country, can emotionally affect students in school and out of school.
- Have an honest conversation with your students about their fears and how they can overcome them.
- Students’ anxieties decrease as they learn empowerment strategies in relation to mass violence.