How do you get inside the mind of a deeply troubled individual – not minutes but months before they shatter a school community with violence? How do you take action on this analysis and intervene in thousands of cases when even the best experts cannot point with complete certainty to which very small numbers of individuals will eventually turn to murder and suicide? How do you capture the outcomes on all these efforts – what worked, what failed – and feed that vital data back into our preventive methodologies so that our collective knowledge, expertise, best practices and collaborative initiatives become more effective over time?
We have answers to these questions – thanks to the extensive research conducted to date by the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Education, the FBI and other federal agencies. But there is still so much more that we need to know. What are the critical emerging areas that need to be explored through research? Here are three:
- Interpretation of social media posts and communications by teens.
- The long-term impact of increasingly explicit and numbing levels of violence in entertainment channels such as video gaming and movies.
- Updating search, monitoring and analysis programs to improve and increase identification of pre-attack indicators and warnings.
Learning more about areas like these is a job for our government, universities and research institutions. But the rest of us must advocate that the research continue, is readily available and is acted upon. In Act #12: we commit our not-for-profit national targeted violence prevention center to act in two ways. First we will be a resource to distribute to and educate schools on the research and guidelines already conducted. Secondly, we will actively encourage our government to continue research, to distribute the findings, to teach our schools the warning signs, to educate our parents – to spread the word about prevention and detection of targeted violence, in order to keep our children safe in school.