Following the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, schools have implemented new safety protocols. Annual spending on protection and surveillance systems has reached almost $3 billion; educational institutions regularly conduct training on behavior in extreme situations (Doll, 2015). Nevertheless, since 2011, incidents involving school shooters have occurred there on average once every one and a half years, which indicates the ineffectiveness of the current policy to prevent these crimes. Popple and Leighninger (2019), as well as the Library of Congress (n.d.) state that the development and implementation of the social policy of any state are carried out within the framework of a certain model. This model provides, on the one hand, strategic guidelines for the development of the social sphere and, on the other, an appropriate system of measures to achieve the socio-economic goals of society. However, as practice shows, policymakers in the USA do not always adhere to such a model in developing policy.
In response to the 2018 Florida school massacre, President Trump proposed to arm teachers. The US Senate of Florida has approved a draft law allowing teachers to carry weapons in an educational institution. With the increasing use of weapons by students in American schools, some states today allow school volunteers to act as the “last line of defense” for children. Already eighteen US states have allowed the possession of firearms or other weapons by employees of educational institutions who are at the workplace (Dixon et al., 2018). They are also charged with the mission of shooting to kill in the event of an attack.
Supporters of lifting the prohibitions on weapons are confident that only such a reform can protect schoolchildren from shootings incidents. However, such measures can also act as an indirect catalyst for violence, as children begin to take the carrying of weapons by civilians for granted. Instead, the principle of complexity is needed, which implies the consistency of interaction of different specialists in the educational organization (managers, teachers, psychologists, medical workers, social teachers, and so forth).
A serious study of what motivates young people to commit such crimes and what to do to prevent them is necessary, and here the role of social workers is indispensable. Kerr (2018) cites the survey conducted by The Washington Post. Most schools surveyed claimed the human factor as the main means of preventing such crimes – in the case of a trusting relationship with students, they can warn staff that someone is making threats (Kerr, 2018). Very often schoolchildren, before committing a crime, in one form or another, talk about their plans in conversations with friends or on the Internet. Social workers need to carry out preventive and diagnostic work among students. Accordingly, it is necessary to develop institutional mechanisms for involving social workers in programs to prevent armed violence in schools. In addition, social workers should initiate a public debate about a socio-psychological, rather than purely forceful, approach to preventing mass shootings in schools.
Dixon, J., Mallory, S., & Doss, D. (2018). School shootings and gun laws. A revolving door. Grin Verlag.
Doll, J. J. (2015). Ending scshootings: School and district tools for prevention and action. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Kerr, S. (2018). Gun violence prevention? The politics behind policy responses to school shootings in the United States. Palgrave Macmillan.
Library of Congress. (n.d.). How our laws are made. Web.
Popple, P. R., & Leighninger, L. (2019). The policy-based profession: An introduction to social welfare policy analysis for social workers (7th ed.). Pearson Education.