It’s a well-known fact that fire needs fuel, oxygen and heat to erupt. Taking away any of these elements will prevent fires. Likewise, school violence needs three elements to erupt as well. Eliminating any of those elements will prevent school violence.
By Robert J. Mancuso
The most accessible element is the “oxygen” that enables violence. Preventing this oxygen from entering the school buildings, athletic fields and office towers in the first place will prevent the killing. The other two elements are far more difficult to detect and prevent—although they still should be explored.
At the heart of the solution is The School Violence Triangle, which illustrates how mental health issues provide the fuel for violence; how trigger events boil over to provide the heat to that fuel; and finally, how the instruments of death and destruction provide the oxygen to ignite the fire of violence. Modeled after the Fire Prevention Triangle, this method separates those with mental health issues and revengeful aggressions from their tools of violence at the entrance to the school.
The School Violence Triangle
The current thinking, according to some recent state legislation, is to increase the number of armed personnel—either police or licensed teachers and administrators—to stop an intruder from harming students and building occupants. This legislation stops short of a comprehensive approach to the issue. One problem with this approach is that these armed personnel cannot always act before harm is inflicted, and can only stop the violence after it has begun. While auxiliary personnel can be trained in the proper use of firearms, they can never be trained in clairvoyance—nor will they ever be "faster than a speeding bullet". However, having x-ray vision would certainly make up for this obvious deficit.
The price of a human life must be added to the cost of arming personnel if that is the only recommendation—clearly a more comprehensive approach is required.
As chairperson of a pro-bono committee made up of professional members in the Newport Beach, Santa Margarita, and Mission Viejo communities in California, we addressed a comprehensive method to protect school buildings, athletic fields and office towers from lethal violence. Its purpose is to offer a platform which may lead to sustainable transformational change solutions in this recurring national crisis.
We developed a comprehensive whitepaper—A Method for Protecting Occupants of Our School Buildings, Athletic Fields, and Office Towers from Lethal Violence. A link to this paper is available later in this article. This whitepaper explores eight levels of security that will stop the violence in our schools, athletic fields and office towers. It is based on the incidents of school violence going back to the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
The whitepaper suggests that more than just metal detectors and armed security guards are needed. Given that students regularly carry metal laptops, cellphones and car keys/house keys with them bottlenecks are an inevitable certainty. This is because every student will set off the metal detector and have to be searched manually: backpacks, packages, and envelopes. Flammables are not detected by metal detectors.
To reinforce this measure, outer perimeter security needs to include X-ray and explosive scanners in addition to metal detectors. Multiple metal detector and X-ray machines need to be placed at each major entrance. A single entrance would create a concentration area that would make the crowd vulnerable. Best practice is multiple entrances, scheduled arrival time for students, armed security providing crowd control, and sufficient metal detectors and X-ray machines to quickly search and speed the crowd into the school building.
Viewed through the prism of the School Violence Triangle the case of the Santa Fe High School shooting in Texas on May 18, 2018 becomes more clear.
- The Texas school shooter killed a girl who turned down his advances and embarrassed him in class, her mother said.
- Sadie Rodriguez, the mother of 16-year-old junior Shana Fisher, told the Los Angeles Times her daughter “had four months of problems” with the [narcissistic] killer.
- “He kept making advances and she repeatedly told him no,” the mom wrote in a Facebook message to the paper.
- Finally, the girl had enough and stood up to [the 17-year-old boy], in front of their class [thereby shaming the narcissist in public] .
- “A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn’t like,” Rodriguez said.
This illustrates how shaming a narcissist in public with romantic rejection, damaged masculinity, and low EQ can provide the heat to the fuel of the "category two" narcissistic personality disorder. All that's needed is the oxygen to ignite it. In the case of Santa Fe High School, all three elements were there.
The NRA Response.
On May 20, 2018 new NRA President Oliver North said in the aftermath of the deadly Texas school shooting, “I believe that we can make sure kids are protected without taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens,” North, a former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, told “Fox News Sunday.”
- North called for metal detectors in schools and pushed the National Rifle Association’s “school shield” agenda, which he said offers school’s a free security assessment that includes looking at how people enter and exit buildings.
Our white paper addresses:
- A comprehensive method that puts all options into perspective to prevent lethal violence in our schools, athletic fields, and office towers.
- It proposes an acceptable method that prevents, in the first place, instruments of death and destruction—guns, knives, bombs, explosives, and flammables—from ever entering the buildings and athletic fields in which children and adults are present.
- It also addresses portions of the political opposition to the Second Amendment; and focuses on the complexities involved in the killing of our youth and adult workers.
- It addresses mental health issues, both from a clinical perspective as well as from societal viewpoints.
- Finally, it creates new jobs in the manufacture of equipment essential to its operation.
Some Key Statistics about school shootings
- All of the attacks were committed by males.
- 98 percent of the attackers experienced or perceived a major loss prior to the attack.
- 78 percent of attackers had a history of suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts prior to their attack.
- 71 percent of attackers felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others prior to the incident (in several cases that harassment was described as “long-standing and severe”).
- Almost all of the attackers (95 percent) were current students at the school.
- More than half (59 percent) of the attacks occurred during the school day.
- In 73 percent of the incidents, the attackers had a grievance against at least one of their targets.
- Most attackers used a gun as their primary weapon, with 61 percent using handguns and 49 percent using rifles or shotguns.
- Three quarters of attackers used only one weapon, although nearly half of them carried multiple weapons during the attack.
- In the majority of incidents (81 percent) the attacker carried out the incident on his own.
Langman, P., (2017). A bio-psycho-social model of school shooters. The Journal of Campus Behavioral Intervention (j-bit) 5 (2017).
Stone, M. H., (2009). The anatomy of evil. Prometheus Book, Amherst, New York.
Rosenwald, M, S. (2017). Most mass shooters aren’t mentally ill. The Washington Post. (May 18, 2017). Retrieved from: http://www.peteearley.com/2016/05/19/the-myth-of-the-mentally-ill-mass-shooter/.