When you run for cover you want something to protect you. And that something just might be a backpack filled with books thick enough to stop flying hunks of metal heading your direction.
Dumb Moves in the Name of Safety
Yes, backpacks hide a lot of things, including sugary snacks, love notes, drugs, and even guns. Under the blue light of late-night television and the cloud of worry, some school administrators have come up with some not-so-brilliant ideas. Namely, outlawing backpacks for students. If you have been following us for any length of time, then you already know that I really believe in thinking things out and searching for those unintended consequences. And there are a lot in the move to ban backpacks. Wet books from rain, dropped and damaged books and laptops, students carrying laundry baskets (where do you store that) and lastly taking away a student’s improvised bullet-proof vest.
Amid outcries from students and parents, school administrators press on with their ban, raising the flag of safety. Well, safety is bigger than active shooters. It involves clean hallways, removal of trip hazards, having your arms free for balance and the like. In addition, there is more to school than safety. Wanna know what it is? Education. Without a backpack, students will eventually opt to stop carrying their books to class altogether.
What to do now?
So where do we go from here?
First, we have to stop making knee-jerk reactions to everything. Do your research and do it thoroughly. More people die from other causes than they do gunshots. I know it is sad and ultra-violent when a mass shooting occurs, but they are rare. AND they are not a new threat (see the blurb from Ranker.com below).
Second, prepare wisely. Do your training. Train your staff. Give them the tools they need to do their job. Mainly, recognizing signs and symptoms and then acting on them to prevent the buildup to an active shooter event.
Third, budget well. Add staff and scanning equipment so you can effectively stop shooters in their tracks.
Fourth, empower students to report warning signs.
Lastly, think thing through.
On August 1, 1966, 25-year-old architectural engineering student and ex-Marine sharpshooter Charles Whitman murdered his wife and mother and then climbed to the observation deck of a clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin. Once there, he took out a sniper rifle and began shooting at the people below.
During his 96-minute shooting spree, Whitman killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others before being gunned down by police. Other victims included an unborn fetus and a student who would eventually die from his wounds in 2001, bringing Whitman’s total death toll that day to 17. The event is considered to be the first school mass shooting in modern U.S. history and is credited for bringing the phrase “mass shooting” to the American lexicon, outside of war.
Whitman left behind notes that suggested he hated his father and suffered from depression, repressed violent urges, and headaches. An autopsy later showed that he had a nickel-sized brain tumor, which could have also played a role in his mental instability.