Our vision for this new not-for-profit center for preventing school violence must be big. Expansive. Ambitious. Similarly, our center’s additional founding elements – our core values and beliefs, our purpose and our mission – must be equally confident and inspirational. They have to be. We have more than 132,000 elementary and secondary schools in this nation. And every school day of the year, each of these facilities opens their door to 55 million students who range in ages from 3 to 18 years old. In 2012 alone 33 individuals lost their lives to school-associated violence.
Our Act #3 is to establish the following:
- Our Vision: “No child will lose their life to school-associated violence.”
- Our Mission: To prevent targeted violence in our schools.
- Our Purpose: To make every school in America a safe place to learn.
- Our Core Values and Beliefs: We ascribe to the following fundamental principles that are based on (a) the findings of the Safe School Initiative conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education in 1999 as well as (b) our direct experiences and knowledge gained throughout our careers in the field.
- Targeted violence can be prevented.
- Attackers’ behavior can be identified, assessed and managed – parents, teachers, administrators and students can be taught the signs and learn when to react.
- Resources to prevent targeted violence must always be available to schools – regardless of governments’ ability to fund programs.
- Incidents of targeted violence in schools are usually the end result of an understandable and often discernible process – not random, sudden or impulsive acts.
- There is a critical difference between making a threat and posing one.
- Stereotypes are counterproductive. There is no useful profile of students who engage in acts of targeted school violence.
- Many attackers plan their attack for weeks, months or even years in advance – a fact which increases opportunities for intervention.
- Prior to many attacks, other students know about the attacker’s idea or plan to attack – and are involved in some capacity.
- Most attackers engage in some behavior prior to the incident that causes others concern or indicates a need for help.
- Despite prompt law enforcement responses, most attacks are stopped by means other than law enforcement intervention.