Dr. Mac's Interview with Fred Katayama of Reuters News Service on 4/17-07 (Virginia Tech Incident) to discuss characteristics of shooters and how schools can prevent such disasters.

Video interview footage of Dr. Mac for Associated Press report on 4/18/07 to discuss videotape of Cho (the shooter) 

Dr. Mac's Interview with local news channel to discuss the mind of shooters


School Safety:


Click Below For A Powerpoint Presentation of Dr. Mac's Keynote Address On Understanding and Preventing School Shootings.

Long version with speaker notes (for 1 1/2 hour keynote presentation)

Short version with information only


The United States is the most violent country in the industrialized world.  In 1988, there were three million attempted or completed assaults, rapes, robberies, and thefts in school buildings.  From 1996 to 2005, 40 or so national and international shooting acts have occurred in schools with at least 110 students, educators, relatives of the school shooters, and the shooters themselves having died.  Despite the fact that violent deaths in schools have DECREASED from 54 in 1993 to about 15 per year in 2000-2002, most people mistakenly believe that the figures have risen in recent years.  In reality, 99.99% of schools have never had a homicide of any kind.  However, the rates are still of great concern, and perceptions are important.  There is the general feeling that "This type of thing could happen anywhere."  Three quarters of the American public believe that a shooting could occur in their neighborhood school.  Thirty percent of students say they know kids in school who they believe are capable of doing great harm to others. Forty seven percent of middle schoolers and 43% of high schoolers don't feel safe at school.  Depending on age, 30-60% of students report being able to obtain a gun quickly if desired.  One in five students has carried a weapon to school.  Recently, school shootings have again garnered our attention and concern.  Below, you'll find a synopsis of everything I've learned from a variety of sources.  I wanted to put it all this information in one place where educators could find it.

Who is to blame?Preview This Clip Now!
 Many sources are blamed for the school shootings: media, music, video games, the internet, the availability of guns, societal glorification of cruel and aggressive people, and many more.  Yet there are many law abiding youngsters who listen to "shock rock" or rap music, play violent video games and/or watch violence on TV or at the movies, and surf the net to unpalatable sites.  Why don't they "snap" and strike out at others?

There are so many ingredients in the causation soup: busy families, family problems, pressure to succeed in school, and the other influences mentioned above.  Essentially, however, the presence of three components seem to create a formula that indicates a risk or propensity for becoming a school shooter: a troubled mind filled with deep hurt (often reported to be due to bullying/victimization), exposure to violence (real or depicted), and access to a gun.  These contributors are addressed in reverse order below.

 Thirteen U.S. youngsters die by gunfire each day.  In fact, more children die from bullet wounds each year than do police in the line of duty, and the leading cause of non-illness death among teenage boys in the U.S. (all races) is death by shooting.  One quarter of students say that guns are easily accessible at home.  Oddly, it is legally more difficult to get a prescription for medication than a gun.  Indeed, there are more restrictions on making pork sausage than to own a gun.  One needs to be 21 years of age to buy cigarettes, but only 18 to purchase a gun.  In the 1960's and 1970's, anti-government militants couldn't find guns to carry out their threats.  Now troubled and destructive kids with no guiding ideology can access them easily.

 In recent years, school shootings have grabbed the headlines numerous times.  Seventy percent of violent deaths in schools are from guns.  Six percent of kids reported bringing a firearm to school, also down from the reports of previous years...but still too many.  One study surveyed youngsters of different ages whose parents owned firearms and believed their children were unaware of the location of the guns (or keys to the locks/containers).  In EVERY case, the children knew the location of the unlocked gun or the keys to the locks.  Kids explore their houses.  They know where guns/keys are located.  Keeping the keys to locked gun safes on one's person is the ONLY way to prevent access to guns.  Sadly, many parents do not follow this guideline.  The guns used in school shootings have almost always been owned by the shooter's parents.

Whatever your view on gun control, we certainly don't want unsupervised kids getting their hands on them.  Many maladjusted kids identify with other school shooters (just look at the web sites that glorify the actions of Harris and Kleibold, the Columbine shooters), viewing them as "heroes" who like themselves were victimized and fought back in a justifiable cause.  However, angry victimized kids can't shoot others if they are kept from obtaining a gun.  Nearly all the shooters used the guns of a parent or close relative.

Exposure to violence
      Those who have experienced violence (as recipient or witness) often use it to gain control over situations that are troubling (if they have the power to do so).  Kids model the behavior they see modeled by parents, or see gain rewards for others (influence, money, etc).  A large number of the school shooters had violent home lives, being assaulted physically, sexually, or verbally (or being witness to it).  Victims don't want to be victimized anymore.  They want respect and importance.  In today's society, weapons can provide a way for weaker youngsters to strike back at their tormentors.

   During our childhood, many of us had our access to media monitored and censored by our parents.  It is more difficult for guardians to do so nowadays.  There are 26.4 acts of violence in every hour of children's television.  The average youngster views three murders on television each day.  Media, music, and the internet expose our youngsters to violence and ways to implement it.  Forty eight percent of our youth have played violent video games.  These games allow users to hunt down and kill figures in a realistic manner.  While media and the internet sites have little or no effect on those who have been taught right from wrong and incorporated a pro-social value system, for those with rotten childhoods, these games become more than entertainment.  They take on significance.  These games, that become more realistic with each passing year, numb their players to violence and give them practice in harming others.  This experience is not equivalent to the old-time arcade where one fired pellets at small moving targets of sheet metal or tried to draw a light-beam gun quicker than the fiberglass cowboy figure.  Players now practice massacres.  To a school shooter, the actual incident appears very much like what they have already done electronically.

The majority of kids are not supervised when they "surf the net".  Most youngsters report that their parents are unaware of the sites they visit.  Despite the positive aspects of the internet, it has opened up opportunities for disgruntled individuals to find others who feel and believe as they do.  It connects troubled users with others who accept them and advocate for "pay back", or gives misdirected guidance to those who are rudderless in life.  Instructions for hurting and killing are easily found.  One quarter of our students have visited the web sites of hate group, 1/6 have logged onto gun sites, and 1/6 have accessed sites related to the making of bombs.  Juveniles made 1/3 of the 3578 bombs found or used during the period of 1993-1997 in the United States.

    While violent entertainment has little or no effect on well adjusted individuals (except to numb us to the impact of it), for alienated, disaffected youth who are now predisposed to take violent action, it takes on significance.  It represents what might be done to solve an seemingly insolvable problem.  Media saturation of school shooting events may also trigger action by those predisposed to violence.  Unless most individuals who watch agast at the reports, these troubled souls understand the rage of the shooters.  They see the effectiveness of the act in "solving" their problem.

A troubled mind:  Who are these shooters?
 Research into the lives of school shooters reveals a lot about those who are at risk for engaging in extreme violence against their peers.  Most youth at risk for violence exhibit multiple warning signs.  A certain cluster of behaviors is usually evident.  These may or may not be causes of the violent act, but they are "red flags"...commonalities among many of the shooters.

-A dark, brooding personality: Beyond the often-times found withdrawal of adolescents, depression and obsession with death, cruelty, or Satanism/the underworld is an indicator of a need for intervention.  Many engage in self-injurous behavior or threats of suicide.  They are not "psycho" (inexplicably evil), they have an injured self concept.  Their self-esteem has been assaulted by others.  They have been created by the society that deplores their acts.

-Alienation: Shooters tend to be socially withdrawn and feel that they have been unfairly singled out for ridicule, persecution, or punishment from others (2/3 of shooters interviewed by the U.S. Secret Service felt persecuted or attacked by others).  They do not have mentally healthy friends or else they associate with other alienated "outcasts".  They are lonely, isolated, defeated, and resentful.  Rejection by others by age 10 is especially significant.  These disenfranchised youth often engage in maladaptive ways of forming a personal identity.

-A fascination with guns: Most attackers had previously used guns and had access to them.  More than just an interest in guns, these youngsters have an obsession with them.  Many had their own guns or unsupervised access to them, talked about them with great frequency, and displayed them to others.

-Repeatedly talking about violence and their plans to commit it: Prior to most incidents, the attacker told someone about the idea or plan.  Many school shooters talked about their fantasies/plans and some published their intentions on the world wide web or in written compositions/diaries.  Their writings are often angry and threatening, offering details that pertain to local places and persons.  The shooters have often informed their friends (perhaps in an attempt to recruit others to join them).  The Jonesboro and Columbine incidents had two shooters.  In the Santee incident, the shooter told his friends, but when he received a negative reaction from them, insisted that he was "just kidding".

-Making threats: These youngsters don't suddenly go berserk.  These acts are rarely impulsive.  There is a progression of pain, planning, and punishment.  Those who are tired of being disrespected by others may forewarn those who they see as being their persecutors.  Their threats are often repeated and detailed as to time, place, and method.

-Preoccupation with violent entertainment:  Gary Lukatis (one of the shooters) was influenced by a Stephen King novel about a victimized student who strikes back.  Michael Carneal (another shooter) was influenced by the school shooting movie titled "Basketball diaries".  Violent video games and "shock rock" music were part of the lifestyle of many teen aged shooters.  They practiced virtual killing and heard influential musicians glorify violence.  Violent media and games desensitize us to violence, legitimize violent impulses, and teach troubled kids how to hurt and kill through realistic practice.

 -Troubled home life: Another risk factor is living in a home filled with marital discord, lack of supervision, and ineffective, distorted, and/or hostile child rearing practices (including physical and/or sexual abuse).  Life may look superficially normal in the homes of shooters, but one doesn't have to scratch very far below the surface to find relationship problems with the families.  Shooters have often reported feelings of being disregarded/socially neglected at home. NONE of the shooters was without troubles in family relationships.

-Snow-balling troubles: An escalation in fighting, run-ins with the law, curfew violations, and home discipline concerns are another "red flag" of potential trouble.  Falling grades are sometimes (but not always) found (the Columbine shooters were doing well academically).

-Lack of a value system or code of conduct that deters violence: The positive control mechanisms and good judgment brought on by prosocial upbringing practices or religious training are absent.  Emotion and impulse are not tempered by a positive, internalized code of conduct.

-Additional considerations: Remember how important it was to "fit in" when you were a teenager?  To which group(s) did you belong (or wish to belong)?  Was it the jocks, the band, the actors, the academic achievers, the freaks?  Did you associate mostly with kids from your own racial/cultural group?  Remember how ridicule by others hurt so much?  Adolescents have two fears at their stage of life: public humiliation and being "invisible".

Invisibility is common.  70% of US kids attend schools of more than 1000 students.  Big schools are a 1950's phenomenon when BIG was better and considered more efficient.  Now kids get lost...tourist students passing through anonymously.  The research is overwhelming regarding the benefits of small schools: violence and disruption go down, achievement and graduation rates go up.  Big schools often try to overcome their gargantuan nature by forming "houses" or "academies" within.  Of course, the 2005 shooting in Red Lake, Minnesota occurred in a school of 300 students, showing that it can happen anywhere that kids feel isolated and bullied by others.

Additionally, in large schools, kids form groups for socialization and safety.  It is easier to strike out against those with whom you have no personal contact.  But the rejection can happen in any school setting.  Given the importance of the peer group during adolescence, rejection by others is debilitating.  A study conducted by the United States Secret Service and the Federal Department of Education found that two-thirds of school shooters felt persecuted or attacked by others.  They sought revenge against those who bullied, ridiculed, or rejected them.  In their minds the actions were justifiable and noble.

 Consider also that while teens have as many brain cells as adults, the pre-frontal lobe (the part of the brain that monitors and controls the "primitive" lower brain which is in charge of emotions) of many males does not fully develop until the middle twenties.  The prefrontal cortex is responsible for reasoning, socialness, decision making and reflective thinking.  Teen aged males may lack reflective reasoning and the restraint of impulsive primitive emotions.  In essence, an emotional "emergency brake" isn't yet fully operational, so they have difficulty controlling their emotions.  The anger that emanates from the other initial feelings may not be checked.  Additionally, they may not fully understand the long range implications of their choices.  They may react without consideration of the outcome and consequences.  It is difficult for them to keep initial fantasies of violence from becoming reality.  Another aspect of the cognition of teenaged boys is that while they know their actions may result in death, they do not have an adult-like grasp on the finality of death.  Death still carries a fanciful, non-final connotation.  Ten to 14 year olds are most at risk due to their inability to fully view of death as being permanent and irreversible.  Many of the shooters don't fully comprehend their acts even after they have been completed.

    When their dignity is damaged, it reportedly feels good to these alienated youth to plan and implement a retaliatory strike.  They may see their own death in a shooting incident as being a desirable outcome...a way of being remembered.  They may believe that taking others to the grave with them will send a strong message to others to cease and desist their condescending and abusive behavior.  Given the natural competitiveness among young males, one way to win the competition is to pull out a gun...more than an equalizer.  Bullied and outcast youngsters who years ago may not have been able to retaliate can now do so.
A study by the U.S. Secret Service found that previous to school shootings almost 3/4 of the attackers made suicidal gestures.  More than half of the shooters felt extremely depressed or desperate. 75% felt bullied or persecuted by other students in the school.  The study also reported that almost 95% of school shooting events were planned from a few days up to a full year in advance.  Additionally, previous to 3/4 of the school-based shootings other students had specific information or suspicions that a shooting was going to happen.  However, given an often-found code of silence in teens, they failed to inform parents, school personnel, or law enforcement authorities.  Few shooters ever made direct threats against anyone in their schools prior to the shooting.   However,  most school shooters engaged in actions previous to the incident that seriously concerned one or more adults.  The findings from the Secret Service study (and an FBI study also conducted after the Columbine High School incident) suggested that many school attacks might be prevented.


A Risk Factor Checklist
Copyright: McIntyre, 2000

Early identification of those who need intervention is essential.  Complete the following list of items, checking off those that apply to a specific student of concern.  There is no "cut off score" or any total of items that accurately predicts certain trouble.  A large number of these characteristics could fit most teenagers on a bad day, but we're talking about youngsters who have endured long-term suffering and strike out to alleviate their emotional pain.  The selection of a number of items would indicate that your school should undertake measures to provide help, guidance, and options to this youngster.

___Male teenager.
___Has a troubled home life: violence in home, lack of supervision, marital discord,
        misdirected or incompetent parenting, lack of supervision by parents/guardians.
___Is considered a social outcast, "nerd", "geek", "wacko", or misfit by other students.
___Associates with other unpopular social outcasts and/or alienated youth.
___Has been subjected to repeated ridicule and humiliation by others.
___Full of self doubt regarding school, socializing, ability to get by in the world.  Low self esteem.
___Is depressed and/or suicidal (see the www.behavioradvisor.com link on depression for signs & symptoms).
___Engages in self-injurous behavior, mutilation, cutting/slashing/burning of skin, etc..
___Exhibits mood swings.
___Is anti-social.
___Lacks a conscious and/or sense of empathy.
___Lacks a moral code, sense of right and wrong, and ethical center of gravity.
___Foul-mouthed; uses bad language, name calling, and cursing.
___Is very mad at someone or something.
___Makes threats against others directly or indirectly.
___Has unsupervised access to pistols, revolvers, rifles and/or shotguns.
___Intelligent enough to carry out a plan to shoot others.
___Speaks non-chalantly about killing and death.
___Writes or talks of shooting others.
___Claims to be a member of a hate group or agree with their philosophy/actions.
___Visits web sites advocating or teaching violence.
___Plays video games that involve shooting and/or killing.
___Watches lots of violent movies and television.
___Is cruel toward animals, girls, or younger children.
___Involved in Satanic rituals, readings, or music (ask kids which musical groups use satanic words in songs and imagery in videos).
___Blows things up with firecrackers or more powerful explosives.
___Uses drugs and/or alcohol.
___Has moved often (transition inhibits long-term bonding with others).
___Poor attachment to the school.
___Lack of respect for teachers and peers.
___Has low school interest and poor academic performance.

Copyright: McIntyre, 2000

There is much a school can do to create a safe environment that provides physical and psychological safety to all.  Below are some suggestions.  Consider which steps are feasible and appropriate for your setting.  Assess your school's environment on those items.


 ___A "point person", well respected by kids, has been appointed and given release time to
            locate and befriend unpopular, isolated, and alienated kids.
 ___Parents and other volunteers are involved in befriending and supporting alienated youngsters.
___The teachers who are present interact positively and/or respectfully with a wide variety
        of  youngsters.  Concern is shown for pupils and their issues.
___Teachers (and other adults) are visibly present in hallways, cafeterias, and recreation areas
            to ensure students' physical and psychological safety.
___Our teachers intervene when they see teasing and bullying.
___Our teachers create classroom environments in which it is OK to make mistakes as long as one tries his/her best.
         Students are motivated to support others, not ridicule them.  Teachers don't just say
        "No, wrong answer" or correct student contributions that are incorrect.  Errors are used
        to teach, not just evaluate.
___We ask students which areas of the school are unsafe or psychologically intimidating, and
        make those areas physically and psychologically safe.

___We discuss safety issues openly with students.  We address the dangers of firearms,
        appropriate ways to deal with feelings, and how to resolve conflict peacefully.
___We teach conflict resolution to all students in our school.
___We place troubled/troubling students in courses/workshops related to social skills, anger
        management, conflict resolution, and tolerance.
___We have created ways for students to safely and confidentially share concerns/rumors.
___We protect students who report concerns/rumors.

Student Involvement
___To give them a sense of connection to the school and others, we make special efforts to
        include alienated and unpopular kids in the activities and governance of the school
       (e.g., clubs, conflict resolution mediators, student council representatives, peer tutors, helper to younger kids, etc.).
___Outlets for emotion are provided to all students (e.g., drama, art, music).
___We devise ways to encourage students from different social/cultural/SES groups to
        interact in positive ways so that they become more friendly and tolerant.
___We arrange meetings in which kids from different groups share their interests and
         beliefs, educating their peers.
___We create fun events in which teams comprised of kids from different groups engage in
        non-competitive games with their friends and members of other groups.
___We have established a "new comers" club to welcome new kids to our school.  Kids
        from all groups in the school are involved in welcoming them.

School & Community Interaction
___We work on developing the image of our school as an integral and important part of the
        community.  Signs in support of our school appear in neighborhood stores and
        gathering spots.  Other activities to promote community spirit are conducted.
___We allow our school to be used for community activities such as night time youth and
        adult recreation, clubs, etc.
___Positive and upbeat parents and volunteers are given visible and important positions in the school.
___We listen to the concerns of parents about their children.

**For more characteristics and explanation, log onto the FBI site listed at the end of this page.


Our School Setting
___We have metal detectors (doorway type or hand-held paddles) and have assured that
        students and weapons cannot enter into the school in any other manner.
___Our security guard(s) received police training and carry/have access to firearms.
___We have grievance committees, conflict resolution mediation, and other ways to
        guarantee that students resolve their disputes in an acceptable manner.
___We have created artwork, signs, commercials, etc. that promote non-violence,
        tolerance, and a sense of community spirit.
___We have called 1-800-USA-Learn to order their anti-violence materials.
___We have contacted the National School Safety Center in California for their materials
        on lethal events in schools.
___We have published our school code of conduct and other information in faculty and
        student handbooks, and have published it on the internet.
___We enforce our code of conduct.  No groups of students (e.g., athletes, high achievers)
        are exempt or receive favoritism.
___We immediately address threats of violence.  We take them seriously.
___We have a web site or "alternative" newsletter that appeals to alienated kids and
        encourages them to resolve their concerns non-violently.  School-based opportunities
        to do so are listed.
___All teachers and classrooms have immediate tele-communication with the main office
        and other areas of the school.
___Our counselors seek out isolated, alienated, and unpopular youth to encourage them to
        join counseling groups.
___Our counselors approach and befriend kids:
          ___with hair-trigger tempers
          ___who have had run-ins with the law
          ___whose parents report problems in disciplining their youngsters
          ___whose grades have dropped drastically
          ___who have come to school intoxicated or drugged
          ___who view violence as being "cool".
__Our school has school mediation and conflict resolution procedures in place to resolve disagreements.
__We have attempted to give kids a sense of belonging in our large, impersonal school by
        creating "houses" within the building.
__We have enlisted school security professionals in designing and maintaining a school security system.

Interagency Cooperation
___We plan, conduct, and evaluate "what if" drills to prepare our staff for different situations.
___We have contacted the local police to devise plans to improve school safety.
___We have offered our school as a site for police to conduct drills related to guns in school.
___A blueprint and diagram of our school has been delivered to the police/fire departments
        for their reference in case of emergency.
___We have contacted other agencies (e.g., hospitals, fire department, ambulance services)
        to include them in emergency  planning and drills.
___Our school's safety plan is available on a web site for use by emergency response agencies
        in the event of a situation requiring their intervention.
___We add to our staff and expertise by contacting colleges and arranging for them to place
        their practicum students in general education, special education, and mental
        health/social work/counseling in our school.
___We add to our expertise by contacting non-tenured college professors of education/mental health
        who must provide community service in order to receive tenure and advancement.

The Parent-Teacher Organization
___Our parent-teacher organization encourages the use of trigger locks and gun safes in the home.
___Our parent-teacher organization teaches parents how to monitor their kids'
     ___academic progress
     ___computer use
     ___actions around the home and neighborhood
___Our parent-teacher organization provides classes on:
     ___effective parenting.
     ___listening to their kids.
___Our parents receive a list of sypmtoms that MIGHT indicate feelings of alienation
        (e.g., "tummy    aches" and reporting frequent illnesses, complaining about school or groups/other
        kids, cutting class, truancy)

Teacher Training
___Our teachers have been trained in positive behavior management techniques that make
        kids feel valued (or have been told about www.behavioradvisor.com).  All teachers are expected to treat all students
        with respect at all times.
___"Shows respect and caring to all youngsters at all times." is an item on the teacher evaluation checklist.
___Our teachers have been made aware of all the different groups present in our school and
        their issues/traits/appearance.
___Our teachers have been trained to identify "at risk" youngsters.
___Our teachers are trained in what to do in case of a gun emergency.
___Our teachers are trained in how to "talk down" a violent youth.
___Our teachers are trained in bully prevention.
___Our teachers know to report writings, drawings, and conversations containing violence
        to counselors who follow up on these referrals.  When in doubt, they confer with superiors.
___Our teachers know the procedures for reacting in an emergency situation.

Student Training
___Students are aware of our school rule that prohibits ridiculing others, and know that it
        will be strictly enforced.
___Students are presented with a curriculum regarding how to resolve their
         disagreements with others.
___After training and discussion, students are asked to sign a pledge to avoid teasing and
        be non-violent.  We have posted the list on the internet.
___The school promotes tolerance of differences through various activities.
___Students labeled "behavior disordered/emotionally disturbed" (and others who are in
        need) are provided with training in conflict resolution, anger management, values
        clarification, and social skills.
___We bring in successful, engaging adults (young and old) who were outcasts in high
        school to talk about their (former) pain, their former and present lives, etc.
___Nice kids who are popular have been asked to befriend (while in school) isolated kids.
         They can receive academic credit (for community service) for doing so.
___All of our students have been trained to recognize the warning signs of possible violence
        in others.
___ A procedure for confidential student reporting of concerns has been implemented.
___Students are aware of how to report possible or actual incidents of violence.
___An atmosphere has been created in which students strongly believe that reporting threats and
        concerns is "the right thing to do".  Reporting is seen as a safety precaution, not "snitching".
___Students are aware of actions expected of them if the code word for an armed intruder in
        the building is announced over the loudspeakers.  They know what to do under
        "lock-down" conditions.

Reaction & Response
___We have a stream-lined, quick moving process to handle concerns.
___We give scheduling preference to urgent referrals and concerns.
___In cases of strong concerns about imminent threat, we contact parents/caretakers and
        involve them in our processes as soon as possible.
___In cases of strong concerns, we seek assistance from appropriate agencies
       (e.g., police, child and family services, community mental health services).
___We intervene quickly to implement the actions of our referral/student support committee.
___In cases of perceived imminent threat, we circumvent the referral process.  School
        authorities and law enforcement personnel, concerned with the safety of all, take action
        immediately.  Advice is sought from the student support committee and parents are
        notified immediately.


    Having made plans as identified above, should help the handling of the situation and start the healing process.  In addition, there are some other items that may need to be addressed.

___ ONE person has been designated as the representative to the media.
___ A clean up and repair crew is ready to move in to return the environment to its previous
        condition as soon as the police have finished their investigation.
___ A place is provided on school grounds for individuals to place flowers, signs, and other
        tributes to the victims.
___ Counselors and clergy are summoned from across the district (and other districts) to
        provide support to those who wish it.
___ The school opens for students as soon as possible (although the subjects addressed in
        classes may not always be academic).

What can I do to decrease my chances of  being a school shooting victim?

      The motive for these attacks is REVENGE.  Shooters are striking back at those who have made their lives miserable.  Don't be one of those people.  Treat all students with respect.  Listen to all kids.  Talk TO them, not AT them...be personal.  Be patient and tolerant.  Be sure they get more positive comments in your classroom than negative ones (at least a 3 to 1 ratio).  Give them the time of day.  Greet them at the door with a welcoming comment.  Use "we" and "us" messages, and respectful communication (see the home page link at www.behavioradvisor.com titled "Nice ways to build self discipline in kids").  Help them succeed and catch them being good.  Promote a positive supportive peer culture within your classroom (see the home page links at www.behavioradvisor.com titled "Promoting positive peer pressure" and "Ways to catch em being good").  When you must punish them, make them aware that it was done because you care about them or because you know what they are capable of doing if they apply themselves.  When a youngster says "Why did you punish me/call my parents?", the answer should be "Because I care about you and want to see you succeed here at school."

NEVER be mean or condescending.  Control your temper.

    Exposure to violence   bullying   easy access to weapons  =  tragedy

    While schools can't control two of the major components of school shootings, we can eliminate one of the necessary ingredients: Bullying.  It is imperative that this coercive peer behavior be stopped.  Changes will need to occur, however.  These acts should not be tolerated.  Tough penalties for bullying should be implemented, but enrolling aggressors in courses that will promote personal change is also important.  In the past, bullied youngsters cowered in the face of their tormentors.  Today, with easier access to weapons, the victimized can strike back in deadly ways.

    As educators, we can also lower the impact of the other ingredients by engaging in the actions listed in the checklists provided above.  Additionally, help can be found on the web sites (see the link on "bullying at www.behavioradvisor.com) and in the written resources listed below.  We have the responsibility to assure that our schools are sanctuaries that provide physical and psychological safety to all within their walls.


Redlake, Minnesota;   El Cahon and Santee, California;   Littleton, Colorado;   Conyers, Georgia;   Paducah, Kentucky;   Whittier, California;   Moses Lake, Washington;   Jonesboro, Arkansas;   Bethel, Alaska;   Pearl, Mississippi;  Butte, Montana;   Edinboro, Tennesee, Cazenovia, Wisconsin:   Memories of the students and teachers killed in schools in these communities flood back to mind.  Harris, Kleibold, Corneal, Golden, Johnson, Kinkel, Lukitis, Solomon, Trickey, Williams, Weise...the names of just a few disaffected youngsters who hurt and hated so much that they shot their schoolmates and teachers.  It is difficult not to detest them, but we must find meaning and direction in what has occurred, and assure that some good comes of it in the way of prevention of future incidents.

 The memories of those who died must lead us to develop safer and more welcoming school environments, and methods for reaching those who don't fit in well.

Society created the shooters it now defiles.  Society must work to change the conditions that so hurt these children that they strike out.  In the words of Father Flanagan, former head of Boy's Town, "There are no bad boys, just boys turned bad."  We need to protect others while helping alienated and antisocial youngsters turn back to a prosocial outlook and lifestyle.



Melissa Caudle (1994). Crisis Alert System Implementation: A crisis planning training manual. St. Rose, LA: Syndistar, Inc. (Order by calling 1-800-841-9532 or 504/468-1100).

Bev Johns (1997). Techniques for Managing A Safe School. Denver: Love Publishing.

Bev Johns (1995). Techniques for Managing Verbally and Physically Aggressive Students. Denver: Love Publishing.

Bill Shaw (19**) Jack and Jill and why they kill.

Subscribe to Safe Learning, a journal designed to make schools safer places.  Log onto www.safe-learning.com  or call 408/286-8505.


:http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/15/us/connecticut-school-safety/index.html  Good general advice on school safety

School Crisis Guide: Helping and Healing in a Time of Crisis

Threat Assessment at School: A Primer for Educators

Tips for School Administrators for Reinforcing School Safety

Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting

Children and Violence

Click on the resource title above or cut and paste the following:http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/child-and-adolescent-mental-health/children-and-violence.shtml

Coping With Crisis - Helping Children With Special Needs

Link to info on school shooters: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/17/opinion/newman-school-shooters/index.html?iref=obnetwork

www.antibullying.net provides many techniques for handling and decreasing different types of bullying.

www.bullying.co.uk provides support for parents and kids, and provides strategies for bully prevention.

http://www.bullybeware.com/moreinfo.html For information and what to do about bullies.

Safe Schools and Violence Prevention (California Dept. of Education). Provides ways to reduce the occurrance of violent acts.   http://goldmine.cde.ca.gov/spbranch/safety/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Division of Violence Prevention.  Contact at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/dvp/dvp.htm

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Characteristics of school shooters and suggested interventions.
Log onto:  http://www.fbi.gov/library/school/school2.pdf   and go to page 23 (characteristics) or page 30 (interventions)

 Hamilton Fish Institute for School and Community Violence.  Contact at http://hamfish.org

Justice for Kids and Youth Homepage.  Contact at http://www.usdoj.gov/kidspage

National Resource Center for Safe Schools.  Contact at http://www.safetyzone.org

National School Safety and Security Services.  Provides consultation and training to schools.  Free tips also.  Contact http://www.schoolsecurity.org/school-safety-experts/associates.html

This site lists many school safety sites: http://www.criminology.net/resources/criminology-resources-to-school-safety-and-violence/

Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program.  Contact at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/SDFS
United States Department of Educaton. (1998). Early warning, timely response: A guide to safe schools. Available free of charge from the U.S. Dept. of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20202 or through the web site at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/OSEP/earlywrn.htmlor e-mail: David_Summers@ed.govor telephone at 202/205-9043

United States Department of Education. (2000).  Safeguarding our children: An action guide.  Available free of charge from the U.S. Dept. of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20202   or through the web site at    http://www.ed.gov/or http://cecp.air.org/guideor order the guide through the web site for the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice.  Their web site link is posted on the home page of this site (www.BehaviorAdvisor.com)  under the title "Other web sites".

Comedian Mike Pritchard presents funny, but informative and effective presentations to students about acceptance of others, opposing ridicule and violence, etc.  Contact him or order his videos at http://www.livewiremedia.com/poc.html

For links to many sites on school safety, log onto: http://www.air.org/cecp/guide/websites.htm

Contact Ron Anderson at rfander-son@wcpss.net or 919/850-1660 for a brochure on how Wake County Schools have implemented their "Safe schools/healthy students initiative"

This is our web site mascot's hero:  McGruff,"The Crime Dog"(as seen on TV)


"I'm gonna grow up to be just like McGruff!"
Fetch Dr. Mac's Home Page
Is this a school guard dog  or  the counselor's puppy that comforts upset youngsters?

Author: Tom McIntyre, DoctorMac@BehaviorAdvisor.com
Source: www.BehaviorAdvisor.com