You may already have heard some bright solutions to the school-shooting crisis. Arming teachers. Installing metal detectors. We found some other suggestions for improving school safety.
Resolve the conflicts
Fully 78 percent of American schools have a formal violence- prevention or reduction program, according to a survey sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The goals are to help kids solve conflicts peaceably and create a culture where weapons and violence are shunned, not considered cool.
Despite a long-running debate over the effectiveness of these programs, David Finkelhor, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, says "There's clear-cut evidence that some of the better programs work. The concept works." (See "Effectiveness of a Violence Prevention Curriculum" in the bibliography).
Oddly, the wave of school shootings comes as rates of violent crimes, sexual assault and child sexual abuse are all dropping, Finkelhor says. He adds that even as these crimes become rarer, improved methods for dealing with the shock and grief caused by school killings are helping lighten the burden of tragedy that does occur.
Watch the kids
Parents need to take more time with their children, says psychologist David Silber of George Washington University. "Do a reality check. Are your kids angry, enraged? Pay more attention to their interests and fantasies" and what they are reading. If your kids are spending time with violent movies and comics, he suggests, "be sensitive to what it might mean for the child." Other signs of trouble, he says, include being "very isolated and quiet," and using violent themes in writing or artwork.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry mentions some other warning signs: frequent loss of temper, extreme irritability or impulsiveness, and becoming easily frustrated.
Repair the society
Forensic psychologist Shawn Johnston says the killings reflect a "deterioration of moral teaching" and of the social structure that traditionally imparted that teaching. "In my practice, there's an extraordinary number of boys who did not live with both parents. The biological father's not involved, yet raising responsible men may be the single most important thing our society can do for itself... Society as a whole has lost sight of the role of work and sacrifice that history and common sense tell us are imperative in cultivating a sense of moral standards and interpersonal empathy, especially in boys."
The Why Files covered the treatment of grief and the trauma of refugees.
Here's another bright idea. Why not make firearms a mite less dangerous?