School shooter incidents have become more of a common occurrence over the past few years. Since 2008, the rate of school shooter incidents has all most tripled. One of the most recent school shooter incidents happened in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. The massacre left a death toll of at 17 adults and children. A former student (Nikolas Cruz, age 19), opened fire with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle shortly before dismissal time around 2:40 p.m. After killing three people outside of the school, Cruz then made his way inside setting off the fire alarm. Cruz then began shooting at students and teachers who were scurrying for cover.
Moreover, the heartbreaking school shooting in 1999, Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killing 14 and wounding 23 still weighs heavy on the hearts of Americans. 19 years later, these types of school shooter incidents are happening at an astonishing rate of 2.4 incidents per week. The list of school shootings is documented as far back as July 26, 1764, and has continued to grow throughout the years. School shooter safety tips are in high demand after such violence has occurred across our nation. The ominous fact is that the United States has a higher rate of school shootings than any other country. A staggering 80% of the shooters were male, however, only about half of the shooters we students.
7 Tips to Survive Against a School Shooter
1. Be aware of the school layout.
Teachers and other employees need to be aware of the school layout, including classroom numbers, emergency exits and other thoroughfares. A map in the classroom wouldn’t be a bad idea. In the event of an emergency, this knowledge will give school staff a benefit in regards to exiting the school quickly.
2. Whenever possible, run away.
Unless running puts you directly in the path of the shooter, running away gives everyone the best chance of survival. Many places practice run-hide-fight for an active shooter scenario.
3. Be aware of escape routes.
Ideally, there should be two exits out of each room. This includes doors, windows and emergency exits. Make sure you are aware of these routes and know to use them in case of an emergency.
4. Immediate reactions are best.
Don’t freeze up in the case of an active shooter. Find your escape route and GO! If you are wearing shoes that prevent running, take them off.
5. Leave your belongings behind.
Leave your wallet, purse, phone, etc. These things are replaceable. You are not.
6. Go directly to the exit.
Do not use any evasive maneuvers, such as zig-zags, when running to the exit. This will only slow you down. In general, you should move straight for the exit as fast as you can. Evasive maneuvers will only help in the event the shooter is aiming directly at you with a slow-firing weapon.
7. Lock the classroom door when students are present.
This seems like the most simple deterrent, but it is also one of the most effective. A door is a simple barrier between you and the shooter. Having it locked straight from the get-go will save a step in the escape process. Sadly, Scott Beigel, a teacher in the recent Parkland massacre, lost his life because he was in the process of locking his classroom door when the gunman struck. Fighting Chance Solutions offers The Sleeve², which slides over a door closer in a classroom. There is very little/no training involved in learning how to use it!
School Shooting Statistics
Research from John Jay College of Criminal Justice says approximately 85% of school shooters were bullied by their classmates. Nearly 70% of school shooters kill themselves shortly after the shootings committed.
The first nationally publicized school shooting in US History occurred on January 29, 1979, at Cleveland Elementary. Brenda Spencer, 16, killed the principal in janitor during the shooting. Eight children and a police officer were also injured. Almost ten years to the day, on January 17, 1989, Patrick Purdy shot at people in the same school. Five children were killed and 30 people were injured. At the time, 71% of the school was made up of Asian and Cambodian war refugees. The shooter hated the refugees because he thought they were taking American jobs.
There is no way to accurately calculate the number of school shootings in American history. However, based on several newspaper reports and research studies, there has been an estimate 370 school shootings in the US over a span of 250 years.
As with any other kind of active shooter situation, proactivity is key. Knowing a procedure to follow during a crisis can be the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, there is no way to fully predict or prevent school shootings, so proactivity is the next best thing.
How Can I Recognize a Potential School Shooter?
Sadly, there is not a way to pick out a potential school shooter based on appearance alone. Many school shooters have a mixture of previous events and attributes. Among many, many other things, a school shooter could have a sudden fascination with weapons, declining grades or unexplained mood changes. Most school shooters do not just snap one day out of the blue. In general, school shooters have been bullied, threatened or harassed by others.
Revenge is usually what drives a school shooter. Other motives could be (but not limited to) suicide, desperation or wanting to gain notoriety. School shooters also generally voice their intentions to their friends or colleagues (as opposed to an authority figure who could act on the information). Many times, this is not taken seriously.
According to the Center for Aggression Management, there are two different types of aggression that people who commit violent acts fall under. Primal aggression is when fight or flight takes over. In short, people with primal aggression are driven by panic or rage. On the flip side, cognitive aggression is when a person is deliberately aggressive.
What is Eight Tips School Staff Can Use To Prevent School Shootings?
- Train staff members as “Aggression First Observers” that can spot the indicators of emerging aggression. This is probably the best of all school safety tips for school admins and teachers.
- Enforce zero-tolerance policies toward the presence of weapons, alcohol, and illegal drugs.
- Develop protocols between school resource officers and staff about the best ways to share information on at-risk youth.
- Develop a resource list that provides referral services for students that are depressed or under significant stress.
- Insist that all students put jackets and other such items in their lockers during school hours.
- Teachers and staff should learn the school’s emergency procedures and active shooter response plans.
- All employees should be issued keys, participate in staff development and some form of lockdown drill.
- According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 27% of schools in the United States never practice their safety plans with local emergency responders. With that said, practice your safety plans with your local emergency responders!
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