Friday, October 12, 2007

Cleveland, Ohio Tragedy

What can we learn from this latest incident?

In the shooting aftermath, experts warn educators to pay attention to threats.

The CBS Evening News (10/11, story 2, 2:30, Couric) reported that educators and community members in Cleveland, Ohio, "where a high school freshman opened fire [Wednesday], wounding two students and two teachers before taking his own life," are asking "could it have been prevented?" According to the Centers for Disease Control, "nearly half of all violence in schools is preceded by warning signs, many times as talk of revenge against bullies."

ABC World News (10/11, story 3, 2:25, Gibson) added that the shooter in Wednesday's tragedy "worried fellow students," because of threats he made. Ronald Bruce, a senior at the school, is one of several classmates who have told media sources that they expressed their fears to teachers or administrators. "I actually talked to a teacher," Bruce said, "about how we could get him out of" the school. The student was serving a suspension at the time of the shootings.

"As school officials in Cleveland revise their security plans," USA Today (10/12, Bazar, Bello) adds, "[P]rofessionals who study youth violence said the solution is simple: Pay attention to threatening behavior and talk." Experts interviewed by USA Today "said educators should learn a key lesson from the more than two dozen school shootings since Columbine in 1999: Troubled teens who plan attacks often warn of their intentions. Schools should teach staff and students to recognize and report threats, and require they be investigated." Northeastern University Criminologist Jack Levin, who has studied school violence, emphasized that "[e]very school should have a program to stop bullying and one to overcome the mind-set that reporting a threat is 'snitching.'" He called installing cameras and metal detectors in schools "a politically expedient solution that doesn't work."

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