More than 100 public school districts and universities, have hired social media monitoring companies in an attempt to spot possible school shooters. Each new tragedy brings more customers, although there is little evidence that the programs work as promised.
About 165 Texas teachers and other school employees are expected to be authorized to carry firearms in public schools this fall to fend off armed intruders — a fivefold boost in less than three months. Only Florida has approved a similar program. Measures to arm school employees failed in 16 states.
Schools hope to avoid litigation and costs for counseling services, crisis management and added security. One critic says the insurance is too high for something with an “extraordinarily low” chance of happening.
The advocacy group Texas Appleseed reported a dramatic spike in the number of students referred to law enforcement for threatening to use violence against students and staff. Authors of a study by the group argue that some threats are just childish behavior, such as pretending to shoot with finger guns, or are the result of a mental disability.
The guide was produced by the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center, which researches targeted acts of violence and makes recommendations on how to address them. In more than 80 percent of such incidents, someone had an indication the perpetrator was planning an attack.
After so many red flags were missed with the Parkland, Fl., school shooter, officials asked students and parents to report all threats, even anonymously. One official said reports from the community and a crackdown by law enforcement dramatically cut a post-Parkland wave of threats on Florida schools.
An expanding web of largely unknown security contractors is marketing facial recognition systems directly to school and community-center leaders, pitching the technology as an all-seeing shield against school shootings. The companies say little about how they designed, tested or safeguarded the devices.
The school-shooting copycat syndrome has steadily escalated in recent years. Young men, many of them depressed, alienated or mentally disturbed, are drawn to the Columbine subculture because they see it as a way to get the attention of a society that they believe bullies, ignores or misunderstands them.