School and Workplace Violence Prevention
Schools and Employers Seek Answers
As reported by the AP, Connecticut lawmakers, under pressure to address the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, are moving closer to recommending possible changes to state laws and policies affecting guns, school security and mental health.
On Wednesday, lawmakers received some last-minute advice from experts. They were told of some relatively inexpensive ways to strengthen school security.
Firestorm Expert Council Member David Bernstein, president and forensic psychologist at Forensic Consultants LLC in Norwalk, said many schools he has visited use cheap, hollow core doors. He suggested districts replace them with solid core doors, which can be easily found at a hardware store. He also suggested installing thin ballistic grade glass in the doors.
“You’ve increased barrier security 20-fold, at least,” he said.
Bernstein said an event like the shooting at Sandy Hook is unusual, calling it “a black swan” event. He said federal statistics on school shootings show 95 percent of shooters attend the school they attack. Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old Newtown shooter who also killed his mother and himself, had attended Sandy Hook years earlier as a young child.
Also, Bernstein said 75 percent of school shooters report being bullied as a motivation for their sprees. He suggested state lawmakers build upon an existing law that requires districts to create internal committees to monitor bullying activity. He said those same committees could be a repository for information about troubled kids, such as reports of a student’s disturbing drawings, threats or outbursts.
Bernstein said it is important that schools create a system that screens students who exhibit “red flag behaviors” to determine whether they might be a threat. He also discouraged districts from having zero tolerance policies, which often threaten expulsion for certain bad behaviors. He said such policies dissuade people from coming forward to report problem students. Bernstein suggested districts instead create an inexpensive virtual mail box where people can call in anonymous tips about a student’s troubling behavior. Read the full article