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Viewpoint: Y lap pool ideas on school shootings

By RedHeart RedHeart, Red Wing

Some ideas and commentary seemingly not mentioned in media have surfaced among the early morning regulars at the Red Wing YMCA pool. I volunteered to add them to our local mix.

Run, hide, fight

If you google school shootings, you are sure to pull up the strategy of "Run-Hide-Fight" endorsed by FEMA and many security and police departments. The run and hide parts are intuitive and instinctual. The part about fight is more challenging and deserves discussion.

Fighting is seen as the last resort, when there is no time to hide, or when the shooter has found your hiding spot. The recommended method of fighting is "swarming." Everyone present simultaneously throws anything they can grab in the direction of the shooter — books, chairs, backpacks, laptops, water bottles, etc., while also simultaneously charging the shooter with the clear intent of overpowering and subduing. It is definitely a do-or-die scenario, and some of the charging swarmers might get shot in the process.

The only way of giving the swarmers a fighting chance is to provide total school training in this swarming method so that any mixture of students and staff would spontaneously know how to work together to effectively swam and subdue. The question is: Is this what we are asking of our school-age kids? And are we going to train them in this "special ops" style scenario to maximize their success in stopping a shooting in their school?

I understand the need, and the rationale of the technique, but as a former kindergarten teacher, imagining it truly takes my breath away.

Swarming with armed drones

Another idea was use of drones. Assuming school hallways have security cameras that are monitored from a central location, why not add armed helio-drones to the hallway infrastructure and mount them up near the fire and security light system? Armed with either tranquilizers or live rounds, a trained operator could dispatch a half-dozen kamikaze-programed drones to dispatch the shooter.

Surely there must be some techy security company out there that would love to have this contract and provide this service. I'd rather have drones do the swarming than our kids and teachers.

Applied psychology and compassion

Moving now into prevention, most often, the kids if asked, can already tell you who are the loners, who are the angry ones, who are the social outcasts. In other words, the natural social networking of the kids contains the intelligence needed to pre-identify among their peers who might be moving toward such a deadly act.

Reporting this to teachers and authorities is already part of what is encouraged. But it could be taken preventive one step further: Train and encourage kids to initiate and provide social connections for the outliers.

See the kid who is always sitting alone in the lunchroom? Go eat with them, talk with them.

See the kid who is always getting into fights? Teachers. train the class in applied compassion and supportive inclusion. Maybe different kids randomly bring the fighter a token gift every day for a month. Then wean down to once a week.

Special education departments already have access to behavior analysts who are expert in finding humane, preemptive ways to change behavior using applied psychology principles.

The goal is to weave these students into the social structure of the group. We train students to say please and thank you to be polite and respectful. Likewise, we can train students to be compassionate and inclusive to help keep themselves, their families and communities safe.

The details would need to be worked out using applied psychology principles and trial and error. But clearly the natural social network of we humans is a powerful tool in prevention that has not been fully tapped for our collective potential in preventing these loner tragedies — in our schools, our workplaces and our communities and neighborhoods.

In this way, we are training our kids that caring for the group is part of caring for themselves.

Stop suspensions and expulsions

Kicking kids out of school for misbehavior only adds to their loneliness, resentment and anger. Expulsion is based on the same archaic thinking as debtor's prison — you have no money to pay? We'll put you in prison — so you for sure cannot pay.

The misbehaving kid has no social skills? We socially impoverish them further by formally separating them from the social group and stigmatizing them permanently. Expulsion only exacerbates the problem. Much more constructive results can come from use of well-proven techniques of restorative justice, counseling, mentoring and tutoring. All this takes resources and coordination of trained personnel and volunteers. But surely cheaper than tragedy.