It unfortunately seems that the frequency of school shootings has increased. Just yesterday, at least 17 people were killed during a school shooting in Florida. Every time there's a school shooting, the debate on gun control comes to the forefront of the news. While this is a valid debate, it seems that more is at play than just preventing people from being able to buy guns. There may be things that parents, staff members at school, and other students can do to help prevent these tragedies in the future.
Can Anything Be Done to Prevent School Shootings?
A school shooting can't always be prevented, especially if the shooter doesn't exhibit any signs of violent tendencies or indication that he or she is planning a school shooting. However, there are signs sometimes that someone is planning something, and if you notice such signs, it's a good idea to pay attention to these signs and take them seriously. This is true for parents, school staff, and students. For example, the suspect in the Florida school shooting — Nikolas Cruz — was described by students and neighbors as a troubled teen.
Tips for Students
To help prevent school shootings, students should:
- Know the warning signs of a mass shooting.
- Alert a teacher, parent, of law enforcement officer as soon as you become aware of a threat.
- Understand that "reporting" is not the same as "snitching" because the goal of reporting a crime is to protect students, while the goal of snitching is to get someone in trouble.
- Remember that you can be charged with failure to report a crime if you know about a threat and don't do anything.
Students can be especially helpful since they spend more time around each other than they do with school staff, and usually have access to classmates' social media accounts. In the case of the Cruz, the Associated Press reports that he threatened and harassed peers and has disturbing photos on social media.
Parents Can Be Liable
It's often not clear what leads a person to commit a school shooting. It could be the home environment or being bullied at school or mental illness, or a combination of all of these things. While people often have the knee-jerk reaction of blaming parents for such tragedies, it's not necessarily their fault.
But it's important to note that there are times that parents can be held accountable for school violence committed by their child. One prime example is if parents are careless with their firearms and their child uses the firearm in a school shooting.
- Find an Attorney Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Suspect in Florida school massacre charged with 17 murders (Reuters)
- Weapons at School (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Do You Have to Report a Crime If You See One? (FindLaw's Blotter)