Is It The Schools?

Jed Babbin gets the basic facts right…:

Politicians and media are preoccupied with the idea that gun control is the only answer to these murders and that nothing else is worth discussion. But the inconvenient facts include that the Oregon mall shooter used a stolen weapon. Adam Lanza, the Newtown murderer, used weapons stolen from his mother who had them legally and registered them under Connecticut law. He reportedly shot his way into a locked school. The time and political energy that’s being wasted on gun control could be put to better use. That’s our job, so let’s get to it.

He posts some proposals for making schools more secure.  He opposes arming teachers – and I can see many reasons for that, and we’ll come back to them.

One – getting more realistic about the extremely mentally ill, who make up all of our crop of school shooters – makes obvious sense.

The other – improving school security, without turning them, as Babbin says, “into armed camps” – is a little dodgier.

Babbin quotes a friend, a former SEAL who works as a security consultant, who advocates putting ballistic doors and mag locks on classrooms, issuing “ballistic blankets” (think “flak blankets”) and drilling the kids on their use, and teaching the staff to “buy time” for the police to arrive.  Which makes sense, from a purely security perspective; make the target harder.

The consultant advises against arming teachers: “It would probably cause more problems than keeping them unarmed.”   Maybe, maybe not – people in law enforcement and the military tend to think the rest of society are mindless sheeple, but I can see the argument.  There are problems.

Which brings us not only to the beef I have with Babbin’s thesis – which is a perfectly valid one – but what I think the real problem is.

Look at the issues facing school security:

  • Schools are big, fat, juicy unarmed targets full of helpless victims.  Never more so than now; as school districts centralize more and more kids to “cut costs”, schools get bigger and bigger. You don’t need to be a terrorist or a nutcase to know that; how many times has Hollywood turned to the “evildoer at a school” plot?  Everyone knows; if you want to screw with a society where it really hurts, screw with the kids.
  • As schools get bigger and bigger, the kids at the margin – the kids with emotional, behavioral and mental health issues – get pushed further and further to the fringe.  The emotionally-disturbed kids get more alienated; the mentally-ill kids get more siloed.  Teachers and administrators get more involved in the endless process of running a huge, institutional, “factory” school, and less in what’s ticking with each individual kid.
  • Some of the kids on the fringes will act out on their adolescent hormonal aggression, and on the criminal behavior they currently pattern themselves after in our society, and commit stupid crimes of opportunity.  Which, if we did happen to arm teachers, would likely involve students jumping teachers and stealing guns.  It’s a fair point – in a school where students can form an in-school criminal underclass.
  • Other kids on the fringe – after years of bullying in a huge, soulless school that already resembles a prison – will, like Columbine’s murderers or the kid at Cold Springs/Rokori, get their revenge in the way that seems most satisfying to their troubled minds; killing their schoolmates and destroy the thing that, in their warped little adolescent minds, left them so alienated.  Others, like the shooter at the Red Lake school or at Dunblane, Scotland, will hear voices telling them to find a school and start shooting.  Or, like Lanza, react to God only knows what – but through whatever motivation, find the biggest, fattest, least-defended target they can; a mall, a movie theater, or in too many cases, a school.

What do these all have in common?

The big, soulless, impersonal megaschool.  They’re everywhere; big cities are cramming thousands of kids into huge “campus” schools, like Columbine, where the staff can barely keep up with the paperwork, much less the states of mind of their individual kids.   Rural America is consolidating its schools into ever-bigger buildings, to save money (or, really, redirect more of it to administrative overburden).

There’ve been examinations of the psychological effects of cramming children into huge schools.  They’ve been shunted into the circular file by an education establishment that created the status quo.

But you didn’t see these kinds of shootings when schools were in the neighborhood, when staff knew their kids, and could tell when something needed attention.

Along with looking at what makes American schools so insecure, maybe it’s time to look at what makes so many people what to destroy them.

12 thoughts on “Is It The Schools?

  1. You also didn’t see these kinds of shootings when nuclear families were more prevalent. You also didn’t see these kinds of shootings when morality and decency still mattered in the United States.

    The writer approaches this article from the point of view of the state — i.e., the school. Don’t leave out the family — as everyone else seems to have done over the last forty years in this country.

  2. “You also didn’t see these kinds of shootings when nuclear families were more prevalent. You also didn’t see these kinds of shootings when morality and decency still mattered in the United States.”

    Exactly. Why is no one questioning why so many kids are on medication? Why are so many kids feeling so lonely, so alone?

    When you strip away the foundations our country was founded upon, faith; family and morality and replace them with the circus the left is conducting…and then hound them incessently with the sheer lunacy leftists wish to create a new normal from, I’m surprised we don’t have more kids melting down.

    Also, it is important to note that minority kids have not been perpetrators of these kinds of insane acts. Is that because so many of them engage in shootouts and other violent acts on the streets?

  3. FBI reported a few years ago 100,000 felonies are NOT committed annually because victims “brandished” a firearm. Felons fled.

    Data seldom reported in the MSM.

  4. As a person who has a relative who works in a school with children on various parts of the Autism spectrum like the shooters (as described by the PTR media, which by the way has nothing on the internet with regard to reporting untrue ‘facts’ related to this incident), I can tell you from their experience that the mental health part of the problem won’t be addressed. For all the talk of “funding” child psychiatric care better – they must not be counting the ten school district employees that are assigned on a 1-on-1 basis for the ten kids that have their own individual education plan. This in a school with <300 students. These kids require not only individualized instruction, but the adults have to be trained in how to subdue the child when they have a meltdown and their coping mechanism is to lash out and strike others (kids, teachers). Tough to do when it's a middle school age kid that has a 25 lb advantage on the teacher.
    Some, not most, but some of the parents don't want their child treated any differently than the kids without behavioral problems. They argue that the kid just had a bad day or was provoked or is such a genius that the staffer just doesn't comprehend what level he's on or, well, there have been a lot of excuses.
    Maybe if the kid had a disease that had outward manifestations like cancer or muscular problems, people wouldn't keep trying to mainstream them. Maybe there would be a recognition that an institutional setting might be better – not just for the kid but for his fellow classmates. It probably won't happen – it will be easier to the amend the constitution when you have the emotional momentum that this senseless tragedy has caused than deal with the parent (like the Mom of this shooter, supposedly) of a child who doesn't want to face the reality of their child's mental health.

  5. Please take a moment to read this, then pass it along to as many people as you can…by all means, stick it right up in the grill of the next lefty you encounter ranting about gun control:

    “I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.”

  6. With all the money pouring into education system, how about setting a paltry sum aside to hire professional armed security guards – a guard per school would be enough? Surely money better spent than hiring another teacher to teach GBLT to 3rd graders. If a perp knows he will be mowed down the minute he takes the first shot, there will be a lot less incidents – at schools. I hate to bring this old tired cliche up, but how many shooting do have at police precints?

    BTW, I teach my kid to run. Do the exact opposite of the drill – do not cower, do not hide under a desk, but break the window, ran away from the threat in a zig-zag pattern.

  7. Perhaps the “fighting is bad even if you’re defending yourself” and “do not fight back – call the authorities” is making sense to those who want to do harm. Not only do they know where the easy targets are, they know that they are programmed not to fight back. It will be interesting to see what the people who are now being hailed as heros really did. I hope they fought back in some way, and not were the best at hiding and were willing to share the skill.

    It’s not that I’m not grateful for those who saved lives, I’d like to hear that someone fought back. There is a difference. We throw the term “hero” around too easily. Hero and victim are becomming more and more interchangable.

    Additional reading: “On Killing” by. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. His other stuff, too. Google him for more info. An authority on the psychology of killing and school shooting violence. I doubt if he’s a soccer fan.

  8. FBI reported a few years ago 100,000 felonies are NOT committed annually because victims “brandished” a firearm. Felons fled.

    And Kleck showed the FBI number was likely too conservative.

  9. What can’t be measured (or denied) are the crimes that have been deterred by the possibility of the victim or someone near by being armed.

    The probability of this deterrent effect happening in a “gun free” zone, although it also cannot be measured, must drop considerably.

    Training then arming school staff on a voluntary basis, not identifying them to anyone, but letting the fact that some staff were armed be known would likely have a deterrent effect throughout the school district that implemented such a plan. Even in schools in which no one volunteered to carry a concealed weapon.

    Carrying a concealed weapon is not a great burden. Safely and accurately shooting is not a Herculean task for most anyone who is committed to doing so. Sadly, the soccer moms of the country have conditioned most disinterested people to believe the the mere presence of a weapon near a school will cause certain harm to the innocent.

  10. Carrying a concealed weapon is not a great burden.

    I wholeheartedly disagree. It is a tremendous burden of responsibility.

  11. Responsibility is not a burden. Raising children, voting, and living a moral life, to name a few, are responsibilities. They may not be easy but are not burdensome. Those who are burdened by responsibilities tend to ignore them and harm us all.

    Perhaps we differ on the definition of burden. I see “responsibility” as a positive fact of existence and see “burden” as the negative outcome of a course of action.

    Those who choose to carry firearms properly recognize the inherent tasks (responsibilities) involved, but feel that the benefit of self protection outweighs them.

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