The incident at Arapahoe High School on Friday, December 13 and other recent events support reports by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that ‘active shooter’ incidents have tripled over the last few years. Data compiled by the FBI shows that not only are these types of situations increasing in frequency, they are also becoming more disturbing in their source. It is becoming more common to find out that the shooter is a child, a student of the school that they are attacking. There are ways to reduce this risk, however, starting with proper education of both students and staff.
The FBI has compiled statistics that indicate that “waiting for the cavalry to arrive”, waiting for the arrival and intervention of local Law Enforcement is not the best answer. In two different studies the data shows that Law Enforcement response may not be enough to significantly reduce the carnage. There needs to be a more 'active response' to the threat of an 'active shooter' incident.
What is needed, to make a real difference in the safety of our public schools, is better training and education for the students and staff. Most communities have local self-defense and martial arts experts who can help make schools more secure. Teaching students the tenets of respect, courtesy and self-control the Instructors can help build a culture that is more resistant to internal violence. These classes, and the Instructors who teach them also provide a path to safety and support for kids being bullied or in need of help. Many of the ‘student as active shooter’ incidents are perpetrated by children who have been bullied or feel that they have no way of getting the help they need. They choose to lash out at those they feel are doing them harm.
Offering classes in martial arts and self-defense to students opens up the opportunity to reduce the number of ‘active shooters’ who are actually students of the school. The best source of defense against the possibility of a student becoming and 'active shooter' are the students themselves. Solid self-defense skills start with better awareness and in many of the recent incidents a better sense of awareness on the part of the students may have led to a very different outcome. Teaching a child to be aware of what they see and hear can help them build a stronger safer school from the inside out.
The teachers and school staff also need better training and education. Some schools have a ‘Resource Officer’, a member of local law enforcement that is assigned to work within the school. Not all schools have this support and even if they do it is not a ‘constant presence’ as the one officer is often assigned to multiple schools covering as many as 1500 to 2000 students. By helping teachers and staff understand how to listen for and see the signs of impending violence, recognize agitated and aggressive behavior, organize classrooms and equipment for safety and security as well as teaching them how to ‘talk down’ or disarm an ‘active shooter’ gives them the opportunity to protect the children entrusted to them each day.
Even the best security equipment and procedures can fail, it is up to everyone in the community to help make sure our schools stay safe. Local Law Enforcement agencies stand ready to provide materials and training, but their resources are just as limited as the school system’s. Bringing martial arts into the schools opens up new avenues of improvement and mobilizes a whole new set of resources that can make a significant difference in the safety and security of our public schools.