DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The Secret Service has released a report that examines school shootings in hopes of preventing future attacks. Authorities are still examining weapons collected and social media accounts that belonged to the teenager who opened fire at Saugus High School in California last week.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have been involved, including the Secret Service which runs the National Threat Assessment Center. That shooting came just a week after the Secret Service released a report about targeted school shootings.
The agency said in many cases there were signs, and the shootings were preventable but, the agency also said there is no such thing as a profile for a would-be school attacker. There were, however commonalities that many attackers shared. They include the following:
- Many were absent from school before attack
- They felt mistreated, sometimes that involved being bullied
- There were multiple motives
- Suspects were often fixated on violence, and watched it online, played video games featuring it, and read books about it
- Nearly all experienced negative home life
- Most attackers used firearms, some of which they got from home
- There was a history of disciplinary actions
Colorado has school shootings in its past, ranging from Columbine High School in April 1999 to STEM School Highlands Ranch in May.
CBS4 shared the report with Douglas County parent Heather Hubenschile. She has a background in crisis intervention and helped many parents stay calm and reunite with their children following the STEM School shooting.
Hubenschile said the report is a reminder to make stronger connections.
“I like that they highlighted that there wasn’t one type. You know when they looked at school shootings when they looked at people who had done them, there’s not a look, there’s not a feel, there’s not a click that they’re apart of it, or socio-economic status. To me the report screamed we have to know our students, we have to know them on an individual level,” she said.
She teaches her kids to build up a positive culture.
“One thing I tell my kids before I drop them off is who are you going to be kind to today, and I make them pick someone and then when I pick up, how were you kind today. I want them to see their fellow students as individuals like they are and I also teach my kids it’s okay to feel.”
On the front lines of keeping kids safe is John McDonald who is the Executive Safety Director for JeffCo Public Schools, which includes Columbine High School. He says not a lot has changed from a prior report the Secret Service released in 2002 except how social media has become a huge influence in student life.
“The national report just identifies trends, the real work that’s occurring today is occurring at the local level with school districts and law enforcement partnering with students and parents. It is our local community that makes a difference,” John McDonald, JeffCo Safety Executive Director said.
Statewide there’s a program called Safe to Tell that allows people to anonymously call attention to someone struggling or hurting.
“Every threat matters, and the most important thing you can do is if you hear a threat, you have to believe the threat is real and report the threat.”
McDonald agreed the report provided valuable insights that identified key trends to monitor, however he said in the bigger picture what’s still troubling is why mass school shootings have yet to decrease.