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School Shootings What to know, how to stay safe

February 6, 2018

 

You have to keep yourself, students and others alive for 6 minutes until help arrives.

 

 

Introduction

 

I attended my  Florida Mental Health Counselors Association yearly conference this past weekend. One of the many informative sessions was on school shootings, presented by Dwight Bain, LMHC www.DwightBain.com . Mr. Bain has provided counseling and support after many crisis and is an International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) Certified Crisis Counselor. He encouraged us to share the information presented to help to keep our communities safe. I have included hyperlinks to organizations throughout this blog so you can get more information and resources.

 

The Killer Profile

 

The United States Secret Service has put together a profile of a typical school shooter. You may find more information on their website at https://www.secretservice.gov/protection/ntac/research/   in their section on Campus Safety/School-Based Violence. Here are some of the key points directly from my class handout:

 

  • Many schools shooters were bullied or threatened beforehand

  • More than half had revenge as their motive

  • More than three-fourths held some kind of grievance

  • In most cases they told others about their complaints beforehand

  • In virtually all of the cases, the person in whom the attacker confided was a peer: a friend, schoolmate or sibling. In only two cases did he tell an adult.

  • In almost every incidence, the attacker gave those around him cause for concern beforehand: trying to get a gun, writing poems in English class that talked about suicide or homicide.

  • More than three-fourths of the attacks, the perpetrator “had difficulty coping with a major change to a significant relationship or a loss of status: - a breakup with a girlfriend, a public humiliation, or a personal failure.

  • 95% were male

  • Many of the shooters told Secret Service investigators that alienation or persecution drove them to violence

 

What really stuck with me when Mr. Bain was describing the killer is that:

 

  • They crossed all socioeconomic and race classes (but about three-quarters were white)

  • They are quiet, nerdy, isolated, a bit creepy and weird and have suicidal tendencies

  • They are good students and they study how to kill before they do it

  • They have lots of casual friends, but no intimate friends

  • They are really into video games and spend hours learning how to kill and practice killing from the games, so this makes them quite lethal when they finally decide to do it.

  • Sue Klibold is the mother of one of the Columbine High School shooters. Her book and Ted talk found on the website http://amothersreckoning.com is there to educate communities on lessons learned. She has an incredible spirit for stepping forward to save others.

 

What can you do to to make a difference?:

 

  • Educate yourself on the warning signs, get a professional in to talk to teachers and parents

  • LISTEN to the kids around you. Give and get them support and help

  • Go to the authorities if you have any suspicion that a kid may be headed in this direction.

  • Remember no matter how diligent you are you cannot prevent every shooting, but you can make a difference.

  • Make a survival plan, make sure the school has a survival plan.

  • Have drills at schools to teach the kids how to get themselves to safety

  • Keep your cell phone handy and know how to call 911 at the first sound of gunfire.

  • RUN, HIDE, FIGHT see http://readyhouston.wpengine.com/prepare-today/make-a-plan/ and https://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/prevention/pages/project-safe-neighborhoods.aspx for more ideas on keeping safe

  • You have to stay alive and keep your students alive for six minutes until help arrives

  • If a shooting happens call in trauma support teams immediately to help the victims get through the experience  

 

Normal Symptoms After an attack:

 

These are some signs to look for after a shooting has taken place as a reaction to the stress. Please seek assistance, these are normal reactions and need to be dealt appropriately.

 

Physical: chills, thirst, nausea, fainting, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, chest pain, headaches, elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, shock, etc

 

Emotional: Fear, guilt, grief, panic, denial, anxiety, irritability, depression, apprehension, emotional shock, feeling overwhelmed, feeling a loss of control, etc

 

Cognitive: Nightmares, confusion, uncertainty, hyper-vigilance, suspiciousness, intrusive images, poor problem solving, etc

 

Behavioral: Withdrawal, antisocial acts, inability to rest, intensified pacing, erratic movements, changes in social activity, changes in appetite, increase alcohol or illegal substance consumption, etc

 

What to Do After an Attack:

 

  • Keep yourself and any other victims hydrated

  • Eat healthy foods

  • If you can talk through it, you can get through it!

  • Get plenty of rest

  • Social support

  • Rebuild community

  • Some resources to call in crisis support teams like: Green Cross http://greencross.org  , Hope Animal- Assisted Crisis Response http://www.hopeaacr.org , 

  • For Counseling after the incident:  The Life Center https://thelifecenterofthesuncoast.com in Tampa Bay. http://victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/get-help-bulletins-for-crime-victims/crime-victim-compensation and http://victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/get-help-bulletins-for-crime-victims/grief-coping-with-the-death-of-a-loved-one 

 

It is up to each of us to make our communities safe. This is not my area of expertise, but I am going to get myself educated! I felt compelled to write this blog because I want to do everything I can to make my community safer! Please feel free to share it.

 

 

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