by Ed Vitagliano
(AgapePress) – Following the stunning shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, school officials, law enforcement authorities, and mental health experts were stumped, asking themselves what could be done to avoid such tragedies in the future. Now it appears that at least a partial answer has unfolded: students themselves can play a big part in prevention.
Across the country, officials are telling students they should be responsible for the safety of their schools, placing posters encouraging students to report threats, and even establishing hotlines for students to call if they suspect an assault may be imminent.
That is in response to a recent, startling fact about school attacks like Columbine. According to The New York Times, federal mental health experts from the Secret Service studied the circumstances surrounding 37 school shootings since 1974. They discovered that in almost 75% of those cases, the attacker(s) had usually mentioned the plans ahead of time to another student.
Kids are responding. In four instances since the beginning of the year, young people have acted to avert possible Columbine-style assaults. According to USA Today, tips from students have led to arrests in Fort Collins, Colorado; Hoyt, Kansas; Elmira, New York; and Cupertino, California.
The new attitude among young people is a big change. Students have always been averse to “ratting” on classmates, but the threat of school massacres seems to overcome such reservations. In Fort Collins, for example, a 14-year-old high school girl was frightened when she overheard two male students allegedly planning to duplicate Columbine in their own school. The girl tipped the police, who found plans for the attack, as well as weapons, at the home of one of the young men.
“When I thought these guys could kill my friends, and even themselves, I knew I couldn't live with myself if anything happened,” she told the Times.
(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)