Proactive approach to curbing mass violence deserves full support

How often after a tragic school shooting have we heard those who knew the shooter tell us they weren’t surprised at all that (insert name here) did something like this?

While the passionate debate over gun restrictions takes up most of the oxygen in the discussion about how to best prevent these types of mass killings, what often gets overlooked is that people who interacted with the perpetrator on a daily basis often missed or failed to heed the warning signs this person often exhibited prior to the shooting.

More focus – we think we can all agree on this – needs to be placed on getting the people who feel compelled to commit these types of acts the help they need beforehand so they do not believe their only option is to go on a deadly rampage.

It’s why we very much support the efforts of, for example, the Mifflin County School District for making its students and their parents aware of the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General’s “Safe2Say Something” program in a letter sent to parents on Monday.

In the program, an anonymous reporting system is available for K-12 schools across Pennsylvania. The program teaches students, teachers and administrators how to recognize warning signs and signals – especially within social media – of individuals who may be threats to themselves or others and report that to a trusted adult or by using the anonymous reporting system.

The program also provides training for adults in authority positions at schools so they are prepared to meaningfully act upon these tips.

Often, no one is better-equipped to recognize problems that students may be facing than their peers. This program empowers those who see something to say something without feeling they’re somehow “ratting out” their friends or a fellow student.

Make no mistake – the students’ participation in this program is key to its success, so we urge anyone who sees anything abnormal to report it. You never know when it could make all the difference.

The hope is that not only will this program help prevent incidents of mass violence ä not just in our community but in others as well – but also suicides, threats, bullying and cyberbullying, drug use, cutting, racial conflicts and other forms of victimization.

School violence – like many other problems – is a complex, multifaceted issue.

There is no magic wand that can be waved to make it go away. But taking proactive steps to address the root of the matter is a good first step worth taking.