School shootings can be prevented — here’s how | William Woodward | TEDxMileHigh
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School shootings can be prevented — here’s how | William Woodward | TEDxMileHigh


Translator: Larisa Esteche
Reviewer: Zsófia Herczeg Claire Davis was only 17 in 2013, when a gunman shot and killed her in her school at Arapahoe High School, in Centennial, Colorado. Now, I’m a former police officer and currently on the faculty
at the University of Colorado in Boulder. And Sarah Goodrum and I
from the center studied the shooting, and we found there were
27 missed opportunities that could’ve changed the course of events that led to her death. These failures included a failure
to involve a school resource officer in the threat assessment process. A failure to include a teacher who had a positive relationship
with the shooter in building a safety plan. And a failure to seize
the shooter’s computer when it was reported
that he’s been viewing shootings at other schools online. Claire was the last Colorado
shooting victim, and we at the University of Colorado, Center for the Study
and Prevention of Violence, it’s our goal that she remain
the last shooting victim. (Applause) Several years before she died,
we went looking for simple programs that might solve this problem. And we looked at assemblies,
we looked at pledges of non-violence, and we looked at movies that people thought
might solve this problem. But the shootings
have not stopped, obviously. And we found not one simple program
was ever proven to be effective. Not one. So we’ve not diagnosed
this problem correctly because we want to believe
that this is a simple problem and so therefore, it should have
a simple solution. But as H.L. Mencken said
back in the early 20th century as a political commentator, “For every complex problem
there’s an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.” (Laughter) Exactly. And so, we’ve done a lousy job,
really, at diagnosing this problem. We’re trying to solve a complex problem
with simple technical solutions. So, for example, we want to do
more background checks, we want to arm our teachers, we want to put more police
in the classroom, we want more mental health services, and we want more metal detectors. And then, with each new shooting we got a new technical solution
to this problem. So after Parkland, what did we do? Clear backpacks – so we can see
through those, you know. And then, after Santa Fe, let’s just have
one entrance to your school. This will solve the problem. I don’t mean that these technical
solutions are irrelevant or not part of an overall strategy. I just mean that they’re not
comprehensive alone. And human nature wants
one of these simple solutions. It’s just like with high blood
pressure, for example. We want the pill that will reduce
our blood pressure. But we’re not interested
in the comprehensive solution, maybe, that might require diet,
might require exercise, might require stress reduction,
maybe some mental health. So, the technical solution
is really only the tip of the iceberg. It barely touches the climate
and culture of the organization. And when that climate and culture
of the organization is sort of, like, in group think mode, where they believe
they’re the perfect school and therefore a shooting
can’t possibly happen there, or when they believe
or want to ignore bad news, or when they have inadequate plans, then that’s when
the climate is disastrous, and that’s when kids die, children die. Children die. If you think about it, the truth
is that real change requires time, effort and a comprehensive
look at the obstacles that get in the way of us doing this work. And it is hard work to prevent shootings
because we have to figure out what is the best possible climate, positive school climate
for that particular school. And so, in order to do this, we’re going to have to adapt
what’s called “adaptive leadership.” Adaptive leadership requires
a comprehensive diagnosis of the problem and solving them with purposeful
programs and policies that we know are effective. Fortunately, a program
we’re implementing and evaluating now at the University of Colorado
includes building a safe school climate, and it builds safe school climates. And so, it’s called
Safe Communities, Safe Schools. And it promotes a comprehensive
safe school climate which is designed
to reduce future shootings. So, it all started back in 2004
when the Secret Service, who was pretty good at looking
at shootings of presidents, decided to take on school shootings. And they found that only a safe school climate
would reduce the chances of a shooting. And they told us that in order
to foster a safe school climate, that requires seven tasks
that we need to do. So, task number one is to collect data. Very important to collect data
and better understand what’s going on in the school. And one school we were working with,
the data came back and said 5% of the kids on the bus
have seen weapons on the bus. In another school, we found that bullying was like twice
as pervasive as they thought it was. And in a third, we found
that 27% of the kids were likely to commit
a violent act within the next year. So, no school is really perfect
and we understand that. But schools must discover
these blind spots and take advantage of them,
using formal surveys. So, my question then to you is, what formal, anonymous surveys
are being used in your kids’ school in your school? Number two task: schools must take a strong stand
against the code of silence. You know about the code of silence. That’s when you’re not going
to tell on your friends, right? Well, they can be taught,
and kids can be taught, that when a life is at stake,
it is safe to tell. And Safe 2 Tell is our anonymous
hotline in the state of Colorado. Other states have different ones, but last year that anonymous hotline received over 294 tips
about planned school attacks. And many of them were actual attacks,
and many of them were thwarted. They also received over 1,700 tips
on planned suicides, and many of those were actual plans, and many of those were actually
thwarted by the tip line. So, with tip lines students and staff
must be trained correctly. And when was the last time
you had good training from PowerPoints and posters? (Laughter) OK, that’s not considered
good training, right? OK, no. It requires hands-on practice
and scenarios being played out. And so, as a result
of that hands-on practice in the schools since 2004, the number of tips has increased
90 times to last year, over 9000 tips were received
by the Safe 2 Tell tip line. Third, additionally schools must take on
anti-bullying programs that are proven. (Applause) Our blueprints program has now
looked at 1,400 programs nationwide, and found only 80
that were proven effective. So, in your kids’ school,
what program is being used and has it proven effective? Four: demand that active listening
occur in your schools. Active listening is a lot more
than just hearing something. Active listening is listening to the facts as well as the feelings
of what’s being said. At Arapahoe High School, nobody listened when the librarian told them
that a student had threatened his life. He was scared to death. That’s because he remembered at Columbine, a lot of the deaths
occurred in the library. And sure enough, later that student
did in fact attempt to kill him in his library. At Parkland, even the FBI
didn’t listen to the chorus of voices warning of the shooter’s behavior. So, are your administrators
and your teachers in your schools good listeners? Can students and teachers tell
their truths without getting in trouble? Five: multi-systemic
community school planning is necessary. It has to include everyone,
from the cooks to the cops, from the principals
to the playground monitors. Without a multidisciplinary effort, we’re destined to build
more technical solutions. One of the most important dimensions
of this planning is information sharing about high-risk youths. In 13 of the last 20 shootings
where three or more kids died since Columbine, unshared data could’ve made
the difference in those shootings. Especially at Arapahoe High School
and Parkland and Virginia Tech, failure to share led to missed opportunities
to manage their shooter. So, for example, in Parkland
a teacher received a message that he was to report to the front office if a certain kid – who later
turned out to be the shooter – came into his class with a backpack on. Now, if you were a teacher,
what would you do with that? Yeah, he didn’t know what to do with that. He had no information, information about that kid
was not being shared. This fear of sharing information is so bad that the attorney general
for the State of Colorado issued an official opinion recently that says that schools should err
on the side of sharing that information. So, if you and you and you are parents
and you all have information of high-risk behavior
of the same student, you should be talking
to each other about that. (Applause) Is that happening? Is that happening in your school?
You need to know. Six: positive relationships are critical. Sometimes, loners are the shooters. So, we need to ensure
that a relationship is established between every adult
and every student in the building. (Applause) Some schools go to the extent
of putting all the kids’ names in a basket and then having all the teachers
and adults pull out of the basket the names of the kids that they know. And then the names left in the basket
are most likely the loners, and then those kids
are proactively assigned to specific adults and specific teachers. (Applause) So, how does your school do it? Seven: all these adaptive solutions
need to be updated on a regular basis and audited frequently. You know what happens in the school
when a new principal comes in, or a new assistant principal
in charge of discipline? The climate and culture
of the school change and therefore, these safe school plans
need to be updated. How does your school do it – your kids’ school do it? We’re currently testing
Safe Community, Safe School in 44 schools in Colorado right now, and it’s designed to incorporate
these seven tasks into that model, and we hope it will be expanded to other states
and maybe nationally someday. The schools around the country must step up and adopt
these principles and plans. And teachers and parents and all of you should be held accountable
to ensure that they really happen. Only a safe school climate reduces the chance for school shootings. We cannot settle
for the next technical fix. (Applause) And I have to say
that this is hard work for me because my wife and I
lost our child, not to a shooting, but those of you who’ve lost a child know how terrible that really is. So parents know it is possible
to have a safe school, and ask to see your kids’
safe school plan and offer to help build one if necessary. We must do this for all the shooting victims and families who unwillingly
made the ultimate sacrifice. We can end this epidemic together. (Applause)

About James Carlton

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60 thoughts on “School shootings can be prevented — here’s how | William Woodward | TEDxMileHigh

  1. Growing up I have always been bullied in school. The most common name I as called was a school shooter because I didn't have many friends and was the quiet and shy kid. I went to the administration, talked with them countless times about how bad I was bullied. Of course the admins did nothing to help me and help prevent that… when I was in middle school there as a program called "Rachel's Challenge" which was an anti bullying campaign put in to help students. Yet my school did absolutely nothing to help me… I got really depressed and tried taking my own life.

    I am a junior in high school now and things have gotten better.. I don't get bullied anymore and I have friends. But people are scared of me. At first look, people think I am intimidating, and immediately category me, without even getting to know me. I have a really low self esteem, but I always try not to let that phase me.

    Long story short, schools need to be aware that things like these really DO happen. The students and everyone else need to start appreciating each other.. all of these bad comments and rumors about someone really does affect them. Greatly.

    If you read this and get bullied, please reply to this comment and let's help each other, it sucks not being able to talk to someone about it.

  2. Bring Bible teaching back into the public schools, where it was for 200 years. When God and the Bible was kicked out, so were the Ten Commandments and other moral teachings. Kids aren't going to revere the teachers as well as they revere God. When the schools kicked out God in the early 1960s, crime and immoral acts exponentially rose in the U.S.. Only God can fix it, and until we bring the Bible back to the children, lawlessness will abound. There was nothing wrong when Jesus Christ commanded us to,"Love your neighbor as yourself".. .and "Love your enemies".

  3. What's wrong with making it harder for EVERYONE to get guns? Why does everyone in the states think that they MUST have guns? Make it illegal for anyone under 18 to have a gun. Make it illegal for someone with a mental health problem to have a gun. These two things will stop a lot of shootings. Remember, not everyone needs a gun! So stop handing them out as if they were Happy Meal toys!

  4. Teacher here. This is a beautiful video, and i'm sending it to my superintendent tonight. I hope that this video gets more views and more attention is brought to this program – there are some really wonderful ideas here. The key point I think he made is that we should adapt these ideas and strategies to fit our own schools' climates.

    Thank you. Please continue to evolve this program and share it.

  5. Gives me hope, there is a way forward that is below the surface. I am going to send $100 to the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado. Thank you.

  6. Robert's got a quick hand
    He'll look around the room, he won't tell you his plan
    He's got a rolled cigarette, hanging out his mouth he's a cowboy kid
    Yeah found a six shooter gun
    In his dad's closet hidden oh in a box of fun things, I don't even know what
    But he's coming for you, yeah he's coming for you

    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

    Daddy works a long day
    He be coming home late, he's coming home late
    And he's bringing me a surprise
    'Cause dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice
    I've waited for a long time
    Yeah the slight of my hand is now a quick pull trigger
    I reason with my cigarette
    And say your hair's on fire, you must have lost your wits, yeah

    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
    You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

  7. Most school shooter describe their act as some kind of "Revenge". Best way to stop a school shooting? Probably don`t treat people badly in the first place

  8. My heart goes out to all the parents no one should ever have to bury their child God I can’t think of anything more horrifying I stand with all of you in solidarity for my heart weeps for you but know you’re sweet summer rose well blossom once more in the fields of Elysian we’re all heroes walk in tranquility and in peace Evermore 💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔

  9. You are standing, leaning against the tree, and looking for the forest.
    If you don’t mention the debate coach regarding the Arapahoe School Shooting, you don’t understand this at all.
    You don’t understand this at all.

  10. No.1: Replace classroom doors with panic doors effectively making all classrooms, libraries, dinner halls, assembly rooms panic rooms! No.2: All schools should have at least two armed security guards, with one at the school gate, and one at the main door provided by and paid for by the government or tax payer! No.3: Make having automatic weapons illegal, nobody needs that kind of weapon in their home! No.4: Homes should have a safe room for any guns with electronic door/keypad so weapons are always out of reach of children.

  11. How about a program where if we see a loner kid being beat by 6 kids older than him we do something instead doing nothing and bieng like "OMG the kid that every body hates and beats and mock went crazy I wonder why". Also don´t get me wrong there are crazy kids in other countris, but you wanna know why they don´t shoot their school? Because they don´t have acces to a gun, they would do it if they could but they can´t, because they don´t have a gun.

  12. H.L. Mencken was wrong. Many complex problems do have simple solutions. The problem is we perceive them as complex when they are actually simple.

  13. Or we could arm all students getting in the proper training and screening psychology may not treat him so badly maybe it wouldn't happen

  14. God bless you for the work you are doing. If possible, I’d like to get more information on how to bring your program to Ventura, California and the, “Ventura Unified School District”.

  15. I definitely agree with mental health issue being the problem and not the firearm. Im a gun owner and I have no desire to ever shoot up a school.

  16. Give me the answer and give it to me NOW!!!
    That's the gist of how we approach everything these days. No one wants to hear about accountability, effort, time consumption or taking personal responsibility. That's why all of this is going to just keep happening.

  17. You’re talking but it’s not going to happen. Americans are lazy and entitle and don’t want to do the work of trying to look out for every kid.

  18. Schools cant even successfully educate children, the one thing they are designed to do. How the heck can we expect them to stop a school shooting?

  19. Thank God I live in New Zealand where there are no guns. You Americans must have it rough, so many edgey kids 😧

  20. Very Good
    It's the hearts and minds of people that must change
    We have to stop loving and embracing sin and selfish pleasure
    And loving morality .
    One that loves thy neighbor as you love thyself

  21. WRONG-WRONG-WRONG Most mass shootings were caused by the FEP (Financially Elite Psychopaths) which are the Elites of the corporate and Banker money and power mongers who own the News medias and bribe your Senators and Governors to attack your 2nd Amendment….resulting in disarmed venues everywhere – which invites the psycho component into these disarmed venues.

    Are we learning yet ?

  22. Back to school really scares me. I’ve been looking up how to survive this stuff. I hate it so much. I want to move to Canada so bad

  23. My suggestion any kid u think is a school shooter check 4 there iep call all of there previous schools and look to see if they had been instituted in the mental health facility or child protective services call all there previous schools asking learn if this is true get facts paper work dont call the parents parents often try to cover up the damage the caused the students they cover it up and they lie especially if they transfer from other states get facts not testimonies paper work DONT ASK PARENTS

  24. I think a safe room at each entry at schools would help. A room or small building that a person would have to go into before they are allowed to enter the school that would have the metal detector in it, and a security guard that would be inside the school watching that person would have to open the door for the person before entry.

  25. Failure to seize his computer for watching school shooting videos? The Constitution must not matter much to this guy. I am watching his Ted talk about a school shooting right now. So are they going to take my phone? Get a grip. Reporting non crimes to the government? Sounds Orwellian.

    Getting involved was a good idea, closer relationships with students is a great idea. Listening to the student and faculty to better understand how it happens and what allows it without getting them in trouble is an excellent idea. In general the people that are closest to the problems know the most.

  26. It all starts in the public school system. Outcasts and unpopular kids being singled out from the rest and feelings of loneliness it all fuels the anger towards society that they feel they are not apart of.
    Gun laws won’t fix psychology issues.
    It all starts from childhood and schools, we need to identify the “clicks” in school and forcefully mix in the kids with other kids on school projects and stuff like that, for example, when u have a class project in school and the teacher says ‘lalright everyone, get into groups of four with your friends “, but not all kids are social and you’ll see the shy nerd kid sitting by himself can’t find a group of friends to pull him in. Etc

  27. One day, my wife was reading about home burglaries in our zip code. She got concerned (to put it mildly). That day, I ordered a steel door, and went to the hardware store to purchase products to reenforce the other doors on the house.

    I guess I should have gotten involved in community self help and positive role modeling for teens and people in gangs – so they could have more self esteem and pursue careers instead of breaking into homes to get things.

    Silly me.

  28. Banks. Jewelry stores. Congress. – We should talk to all the psychologists who were so successful in convincing people to no longer rob banks or break into jewelry stores or shoot up Congress, and ask them what they said to those people…….

    ….. well, IF we value the lives of our children as much as we value our money and jewelry and politicians…..

  29. This is an interesting talk, however I was bullied, humiliated and ganged up on by my teachers. I never became violent, but I still have a lot of hatred in me because of that

  30. I notice he didn't mention fighting back? From conquerors to pussies running away from bullies. How the mighty have fallen.

  31. Get Trained Dogs in schools Trained Dogs in schools Trained Dogs in schools Trained Dogs in schools Trained Dogs in schools Trained Dogs in schools Trained Dogs in schools

  32. Many of the kids are having psychotic reactions to the THC in all the pot they're smoking in Colorado. Funny he doesn't mention that or the psycho-active drugs kids are put on. And we had bullying in my school, but nobody ever got shot! We just settled it on the playground. Also, the guy giving the presentation looks like he's depressed himself.

  33. I remember my elementary school put me on medication because I had adhd. I immediately didn’t like how the meds were affecting me couldn’t get through to my mother because in her mind schools know more then me I told my sister and she convinced my mom to take me off the drug because she took herself to proof a point the medication was making me ill. Imagine schools having the power to put kids on meds and the parents stupidly allowing this to happen that’s the problem not guns or anger is the schools they put kids on meds simply so they can make more money of that child I say make the school responsible for every shooting it’s not the guns fault the schools are supposed to be educational not for profit I guess we forgot that. Point investigate the schools and punish them for pushing drugs on kids that don’t need them at all. Sadly our politicians just want to ban guns so they’ll use anything to their advantage even the blood of our youth but I guess people are that blind now a days not to see that. Long rant I know but that’s my story I stopped my meds because I knew I didn’t need them my sister was smart enough not to allow the school to repeat the mistake with her son.i was smart enough back then to fight my mom on it and thank god I had my sister to back me up stop giving in to these schools they don’t know more than you.

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