SCHOOL SHOOTERS COME FROM YOUR OWN CAMPUS, NOT FROM “OUTSIDE.”
First, there was Dr. James E. Shaw, who was the only researcher allowed inside the nation’s state youth prisons to interview girls and boys incarcerated for committing murder and homicide. The stories they told him, about their odysseys from life at home to life in prison, further shocked an already-numbed nation; the country’s press had already been cranking out stories about kids suddenly making their schoolyards into graveyards. Out of the mouths of babes—Dr. Shaw’s research respondents—came truths and facts that demanded teachable moments and the establishing and practicing of common core elements to ensure the nation’s phenomenon of “adolescentcide”—the term Dr. Shaw invented for children killing children—would cease, desist and be gone forever. After Dr. Shaw, came the Chicago Sun-Times’ (CST) bone-chilling reports, comprising “Deadly Lessons: School Shooters Tell Why.” As did Dr. Shaw before them, journalists from the CST went inside state prisons to query school shooters serving time for the unspeakable massacres they brought to their former campuses. And as did Dr. Shaw’s adolescent interviewees, these teenage shooters spoke candidly and pulled no punches in their lengthy conversations with the Sun-Times’ mesmerized reporters.
Dr. Shaw documented his findings and conclusions in his landmark book, Jack and Jill, Why They Kill: Saving Our Children, Saving Ourselves. Schools and colleges around the country, as well as law enforcement academies, make Lesson Plans from its common core elements. Two judges, one county sheriff, and a former director of Head Start wrote endorsements for the dustcover of Jack and Jill, Why They Kill…. When asked to do so by the Sun-Times’ reporters, the youth incarcerated in prison for having killed in America’s schools, offered a simple suggestion to prevent it from happening again: “Listen to us.” Read what they have to say and make your own Lesson Plans for your own classrooms to work with, absorb, and make a vital part of the safety plan for their school lives.
Again, most school shooters do not come from the “outside.” They come from on-campus and are known by (although not necessarily liked and respected) almost everybody on campus. They are “insiders” who, like resistant weeds, dot the landscape of the school. They are not happy, though everybody else might be. They feel unsafe and insecure, though everybody else might not feel that way. They might have been battered at home or have deep-seated anger and resentment for being so treated by those who were supposed to love and protect them. Maybe they’ve been ridiculed by the campus “favorites”: the star athlete, the prom queen (or both), or the academic “brain.” Perhaps they won’t be getting a car for successfully completing the 11th or 12th grade. Or maybe they did not return to a new semester filled with enchanting stories with which to regale their buddies.
Most school shooters do not come from the “outside.” They are well-known “insiders.”