Many Assaults on Schools are Blocked Without Loss of Student, Staff Life


The Newtown, Ct., school murders may have given the impression that schools are always vulnerable to violence from the outside, but at least 121 attempted or planned assaults on schools over a decade have been halted without loss of life by students or staff, says Scripps-Howard News Service, quoting the Cleveland-based firm National School Safety and Security Services. The list is based almost entirely on media reports, but represents a sampling of what were likely many hundreds more unpublicized threats blocked before harm could be done. “The good news is that schools have become much better at averting these incidents since Columbine and Sandy Hook,'' said Ken Trump, president of the school security consulting group. “The bad news is that we will always have incidents that will slip through the cracks when you're dealing with human behavior.”

A review of the 121 incidents shows the majority involved actual or intended use of guns (55 instances) or explosive devices (22), with the rest not specified. Most were blocked by police investigations or law enforcement interventions at the schools when an assault was already underway. School administrators, counselors, school resource officers, even janitors and cafeteria workers, foiled at least 19 threats. “The dynamics of schools' response to the threat of violence has changed since Columbine (the Colorado high school where two seniors murdered 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves April 20, 1999),” said Curtis Lavallo, executive director of the School Safety Advocacy Council, a consulting and lobbying group. “There's no longer just one person in charge of safety at a school, but a whole team of folks that extends out into the community.”

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