In most of the school shooting tragedies, some young people who were not involved in the violence knew or suspected that this violence would happen. They might have become aware of the actual plans for violence through conversations, or through social media, such as in Facebook posts.
These students also might have come to suspect that such violence was probable. One example of a warning sign of such probable violence is a student who is inspired by shooters such as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two teenagers responsible for the 1999 Columbine massacre. Students must respect their gut level feelings of danger instead of denying them.
The Speakup campaign encourages such young people to speak up and prevent these tragedies. This campaign began in 2002, and it gives young people the options of either telling a helpful adult or calling an anonymous national hotline at 1-866-SPEAKUP. Speak up program campaigns are currently being started in New York City, Minneapolis, and four other U.S. cities.
The 1-866-SPEAKUP national hotline is staffed by trained counselors who have access to translators for 140 languages. It is staffed 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Using protocol developed by national education and law enforcement authorities, the counselors collect vital information from callers and then make the threats known to appropriate school and law enforcement officials.
Just as Baltimore’s Operation Crime Watch is an example of a proactive, communal crime prevention program for neighborhoods, the Speakup campaign is a proactive, communal crime prevention program for schools. In both cases, groups of people working together can improve their personal safety in ways that are not possible through individual efforts.
During a talk with his church congregation, the father of a school shooting victim begged parents and children to be alert for warning signs that can prevent future school shootings. Parents, teachers, and students need to watch each others’ backs.
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