Scylla logo
Book a demo
Exploring the Past to Enhance School Safety and Prevent Active Shooter Incidents

Exploring the Past to Enhance School Safety and Prevent Active Shooter Incidents

Posted by Albert Stepanyan

Albert Stepanyan

President and CEO at Scylla AI

Active shooter incidents in educational settings have sadly become all too common. It is a sobering topic but recognizing the history behind these events is essential in moving forward to prevent such tragedies. Let's delve into the timeline of these occurrences and the effects they have had on our communities.

Historical Context of Active Shooter Incidents

Active shooter incidents in educational settings have been a part of American history for centuries, with their nature and frequency evolving over time. The first recorded school shooting occurred in 1764 at the Enoch Brown School in Pennsylvania, where Native American warriors killed ten Amish children. Another significant incident was the 1927 Bath School disaster in Michigan, where 38 children and 6 adults were killed by a school board member using explosives.

The 1999 Columbine High School massacre marked a pivotal moment in the public consciousness, with two students killing 13 and injuring 21. The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, resulting in the deaths of 20 children and 6 adults, intensified the national dialogue on gun control and school safety. The 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting led to a nationwide movement for change, spearheaded by students.

According to NCES, from 2000 to 2021, elementary and secondary schools experienced 46 active shooter events, while postsecondary institutions faced 18. The year 2018 witnessed the highest number of casualties in elementary and secondary school shootings, with 81 people affected. A concerning uptick occurred in the 2021-22 school year, with 327 documented shootings, including 188 with casualties. The most common scenarios associated with these shootings included disputes, drive-bys, and illegal activities. Overall, since the Columbine shooting, over 236,000 students have been exposed to gun violence in schools, which underscores the far-reaching effects on communities across the country.

The historical context of these incidents reveals a complex interplay of factors, including access to firearms, mental health issues, and societal influences. Studies indicate that recent years have seen a rise in the severity of such events. Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach, considering the unique circumstances of each incident and the broader societal context.

Impact on Students, Staff, and Communities

The repercussions of active shooter incidents in educational settings extend far beyond the immediate violence and influence not only students and staff directly affected by the active shooting situation. For students, witnessing a school shooting can have emotional, psychological, and physical effects. Studies show that they have a 77% likelihood of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

The American Psychological Association has identified other symptoms including reduced school performance, changes in relationships with friends and teachers, anxiety and loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed. Each wounding or fatality also affects families and communities. The entire school community is fractured.

Financial costs are also substantial. For an active shooter incident, the costs of medical care, rehabilitation, and compensation can run to millions of dollars per incident.

Traditional Active Shooter Response

To avoid increased casualties in the chaos of an active shooter situations, organizations typically have an emergency response plan and undertake regular training in order to educate staff on protocols which they should follow during the incident. In a high-stress situation, untrained people freeze and become ineffective. Whereas regular emergency exercises can teach them to react quicker and help get prepared mentally to overcome obstacles during an active shooter event. Active shooter drills are the most common practice and are implemented in over 95 percent of K–12 schools today.

However, while intended to enhance preparedness for potential school shooting incidents, active shooter drills often have a detrimental effect on students and staff. Research indicates that the experience of these drills can significantly heighten anxiety, stress, and depression levels among participants. Moreover, the trauma inflicted by these simulations can be enduring.

The data and statistics paint a stark picture of the impact of active shooter incidents on educational communities. It's clear that while prevention and preparation are necessary, methods must be carefully considered to avoid further harm to those they aim to protect.

Case Studies: Lessons Learned from Past Incidents

Virginia Tech Tragedy: a Call for Comprehensive Responses On April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech became the site of the deadliest K-12 school shooting in the U.S. history when a gunman took the lives of 32 people and wounded 17 others. This incident highlighted the need for multifaceted emergency response, including the integration of mental health services, critical incident reporting, and swift law enforcement intervention.

Sandy Hook Elementary: the Impact of Rapid Active Shooter Response The second deadliest K-12 school shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, claiming the lives of 20 children and 6 adults, with 2 others injured. Sandy Hook showed the critical importance of immediate lockdown procedures and the effectiveness of rapid law enforcement response in minimizing casualties during such catastrophic events.

Prevention strategies in educational institutions

In the wake of the sobering statistics provided by the ASPP PRO (Active Shooter Prevention Project), it is evident that educational institutions must adopt a multi-faceted approach to enhance security and preparedness against active shooter incidents.

Emergency planning and trainingSchools must develop detailed emergency plans that include protocols for active shooter situations, ensuring a coordinated and timely response, and conducting regular drills and training sessions to help reduce panic and confusion during an actual event.

Robust communicationDuring active shooter events, strong internal and external communication systems are vital as they allow for swift emergency responses and keeping all stakeholders informed during a crisis.

Vigilance cultureCreating a safe and inclusive school environment is essential in reducing the risk of violence by nurturing a strong sense of community and belonging among students, teachers, and staff. By promoting open communication and encouraging everyone to report any suspicious behavior, we can proactively identify and address potential threats before they escalate.

CollaborationCollaborating with local law enforcement and emergency responders is not only crucial for a swift active shooter response but also for refining emergency plans and training and ensuring a unified approach during an incident. Engage both legal counsel and a school security expert to navigate legal requirements and maintain the standard of care in prevention and response strategies.

SupportIt is crucial for schools to provide the essential support and resources for students and staff facing stress, trauma, or other mental health challenges and ensuring that victims and their families receive the necessary support to facilitate their recovery process following any traumatic event, such as an active shooter situation.

Augment security infrastructureLeveraging advanced threat detection technologies can help improve physical security. By implementing automatic access control systems, smart surveillance cameras, and emergency communication systems schools can enhance overall security and response capabilities. AI-based surveillance systems help secure entry points, monitor the entire premises real-life and immediately alert of any potential threat. It is also important to ensure classrooms can be locked from the inside and minimize visibility into school interiors from the outside to protect occupants during a lockdown. Schools should use visual gun detection systems to promptly identify and track potential threats on both exterior and interior cameras or integrate gunshot detection systems to quickly triangulate the source of gunfire, particularly in outdoor settings where the majority of school shootings occur. The integration of cutting-edge AI video analytics allows for timely alerts of potential threats, and detailed information on the occurrences, thus enabling better situational awareness and faster response times.

Legal strategiesUtilizing legal mechanisms such as Secure storage, Child-Access Prevention laws, and Extreme Risk Laws can help prevent unauthorized access to firearms. More steps that can block gun access to at-risk individuals include raising the age to purchase semiautomatic firearms to 21 and requiring background checks on all gun sales

Continuous improvementSchools should regularly review and update their emergency plans to adapt to new threats and incorporate best practices. A dedicated security team should lead training efforts, documenting the decision-making process and adapting strategies to the school's specific needs. Utilizing various training methods, such as workshops, online courses, and tabletop scenarios, ensures that preparation is comprehensive and age-appropriate.

By incorporating these recommendations and best practices, educational institutions can create a multi-layered approach to prevent and respond to active shooter incidents effectively. These measures, when combined with the latest technologies in weapon recognition and the expertise of security professionals, contribute to a safer learning environment for all.

Final Takeaway

Embracing technologies like metal detectors and advanced AI-powered gun detection systems represents a significant leap toward mitigating such threats. As we reflect on the harrowing history and enduring impact these incidents have on communities, it only becomes evident that we need to reinforce our vigilance and readiness through continuous policy refinement, technological advancement, and community empowerment.

Stay up to date with all of new stories

Scylla Technologies Inc needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy.

Related materials

Scylla is AICPA certified
Scylla is ISO certified
GDPR compliant

Copyright© 2024 - SCYLLA TECHNOLOGIES INC. | All rights reserved