Saturday, November 11, 2006

School Violence - Learning the Lessons of Columbine

Dave Kopel on School Violence on National Review Online. This article brings to light several interesting things about school violence generally and about the Columbine incident in particular.
At Columbine, the armed “school resource officer” refused to pursue the killers into the building, and kept himself safe outside while the murders were going on inside. Even after SWAT teams arrived, and while, via an open 911 line, the authorities knew that students were being methodically executed in the library, the police stood idle just a few yards outside the library.

To this day, the authorities in Jefferson County, Colorado, have successfully covered up who made the decision that the police would stand idle.
So armed SWAT team members stood by and listened while 911 calls recorded the execution-style murders. (Tell me again why I should call 911 and hope the police will save me.)

But the real issue is why are schools targeted?
The attacks this fall highlight a problem that was forgotten in the post-Columbine frenzy. There are lots of attacks which are not perpetrated by disaffected students. We knew this in 1988, when 30-year-old Laurie Dann attacked a second-grade classroom in Winnetka, Illinois, and in January 1989, when an adult criminal named Patrick Purdy attacked a school playground in Stockton, California. Or when British pederast Thomas Hamilton killed 16 kindergarteners and a teacher in Dunblane, Scotland.

One reason why adult sociopaths so often choose to attack schools — schools to which they have no particular connection — is that schools are easy targets. It is not surprising that police stations, hunting-club meetings, stateside army bases, NRA offices, and similar locations known to contain armed adults are rarely attacked.
Disarmed-victim-zones do not promote safety for the general population. They only promote safety for the criminals.

The best point is the debunking of the self-esteem mania currently in vogue in the educational establishment. In the real world, you don't do well because you have self-esteem; the real world insists that you do well first, then you can have self-esteem. Pumping up kids' self-esteem is part of the problem.
Columbine killer Eric Harris likely suffered from a superiority complex; his problem was excessive self-esteem. Indeed, many criminals have excessively high self-esteem, and one cause of their criminality is the large gap between how most people see them (accurately, as mediocre losers) and their own self-image. Self-esteem programming in the schools, whatever its merits, might even be counterproductive to school safety.
I'll give David Kopel the last word.
Some people who do not like the idea of teachers being armed to protect students simply get indignant, or declare that armed teachers are inconsistent with a learning environment. I suggest that dead students — and the traumatic aftermath of a school attack — are far more inconsistent with a learning environment than is a math teacher having a concealed handgun.
[Hat tip Keep and Bear Arms]

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