Can We Stop Deadly Weapons Violence?

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By: Harry Rhulen, Firestorm Co-Founder and Novume (NASDAQ: NVMM) President and Candace Kaiser, Firestorm Disaster Due Diligence Assistant Editor

Two students did not return home from school this week in Marshall County, Kentucky. These two 15-year-old children were not reunited with their loved ones and friends because they did something they did almost every day; they walked through the doors of their high school.Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin Tweet

We witnessed another incident of school violence on January 23, 2018. This time, the event impacted those of Marshall County High School when a student entered the doors with a handgun and began shooting, killing two and injuring 19.

Students fled from the school’s common area where the shooting took place. The first 911 call was recorded at 7:59 a.m. CT and first responders were on scene by 8:06 a.m.

“A tragedy beyond words occurred in our community today. I know that, as parents, our greatest fear is something happening to our children, and today that fear became a reality. Our courageous faculty and staff at all levels were outstanding in their response to today’s tragedy,” stated Trent Lovett, superintendent of Marshall County Schools. “We appreciate the quick action of our dedicated first responders…Together with the community we will begin the long healing process within our schools…”

This event transpired a day after a student was injured during a shooting at Paris High School in Texas.

Marshall County High School is located in rural Kentucky, southwest of Louisville. Kentucky Governor, Matt Bevin, described the county as a small, close-knit community and stated, “It’s unbelievable that this would happen in a community like Marshall County.”

The truth is, tragedy, just like the one we saw in Marshall County, can happen anywhere, even in your school or business. A deterrent to disaster readiness is disaster denial. We cannot allow school officials, community members and students to believe it can’t happen to them. Because it can. In many cases, warning signs are exhibited prior to someone conducting an act of violence.

Related: Download the Infographic – Can Your Organization Connect the Dots Before It’s Too Late?

The answer to keeping our children and employees safe lies in prevention. It is the job of every school administrator and board member to try and prevent acts of violence. We work with schools and organizations to implement a program that will prevent such acts in the first instance — a program that identifies at-risk students and employees, long before they progress down a path of violence or ever want to cause harm.

This can be done through an organization’s implementation of a Behavioral Risk Threat Assessment Program – a program we call BeRThA®. Its goal is to enable a school to intercede before an act of violence occurs. With this program, we strive to ensure every child returns home after the final bell rings.

Acts of violence in schools rarely come as a surprise, and are perpetrated by current and former students, employees, domestic partners of employees or, in rare cases, total strangers. The perpetrators of the school shootings this week were both current students. Keep in mind:

  • Many acts are committed by individuals with a relationship of some kind to the school.
  • Many individuals who commit acts of violence exhibit warning signs before doing so.
  • Many individuals who commit acts of violence tell at least one, and sometimes up to three people, before doing so.

It is critical that schools and organizations do all they can to identify those students and employees who need help, and intervene with trained resources that will provide the counseling and case management the individual needs. This raises the likelihood that the weapon never enters the school door.

We cannot forget the two students who did not return to their families this week in Kentucky, or the hundreds of other victims of school violence. Let’s work together to ensure similar acts of violence never strike your school. In collaboration with The University of Alabama, we are pleased to announce the Online Training for Schools launch of BeRThA®. We believe the answer to school safety lies in prevention. Prevention begins with BeRThA®.

(View the BeRThA® license here)

BeRThA® is applicable to both schools and businesses. Every organization can benefit from the program because behaviors of concern appear in every environment. Learn more about BeRThA® for the workplace here.

Contact us to learn more about our BeRThA® program for your school or business.

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