Are We Failing The Next Generation?
This message is for adults in the United States — my country.
My academic background is in criminal justice and policy analysis. My work has been focused on protection of assets and risk management in general. I’ve advised large multinationals and governments. I helped Prudential Financial lead the way among Fortune 500 firms in terms of protection of mission-critical assets and reputation. I spent 11 years at Kroll — for those who are not familiar, a feat in and of itself because their typical attrition rate is about 5 years due to complexity of work and challenging internal culture. I have designed security measures for the UN and helped numerous non-profits, including many schools, receive counter-terrorism grants and improve their security.
There… A very concise summary of my creds for you to consider.
In my 22 years as a practitioner, I’ve seen great many “bright spots” and, sadly, a lot of mediocrity and abject failure in security and wider risk management. But all this mediocrity and failure pales in comparison to what’s going on with school security because it affects children — human beings who can’t and shouldn’t have to protect themselves.
I’m astounded by the inertia and incompetence surrounding protection of our children from school shootings and violence in general. We are literally idling with our heads in the sand as the next generation is screaming for help and withering away in troves due to gunshot wounds, psychological trauma, lack of early intervention, negative influence of social media, poor social and critical thinking skills, lack of quality parenting, terrible overall quality of education, and many other devastating circumstances.
Big claims, huh? Well, I stake my reputation on this. I can prove every one of them, but it would require a much longer narrative and time I simply don’t have at this juncture. So, I’m asking you to just consider my view. Beyond that, please just read government reports for school shooting incidents for the last 3–5 years. You can even just read the preliminary report on the Uvalde shooting to see that something is fundamentally, systemically wrong with school security and protection of children in the United States.
There are those who are right to state that, from a purely statistical perspective, the number of school shootings per year is significantly lower than many other incidents affecting children. No argument there. However, current statistical analyses do not take into consideration the butterfly effect on society after every injury and fatality to a child as a result of a school shooting — something that simply shouldn’t happen in any society. Statisticians fail to measure psychological trauma, decline in trust, negative perceptions of government’s legitimacy, and effects of inaction after every atrocious and, for the most part, preventable act of violence against children on school premises. Statistics can’t and shouldn’t win over human suffering — over preventable deaths of children.
Something’s gotta change.
Here’s how we could begin.
Avoidance of harm to children while on school premises must become a singular objective for the US Government and US citizens. This means that all other priorities, like gun ownership and economic growth, must take a back seat. Then, a multi-year plan must be devised and funded to address the problem starting with immediate assessment of and assistance to all at-risk youth and their legal guardians based on typical offender profile (we’ve had this information for years). The plan must be administered by the Department of Education under the oversight of a multi-disciplinary committee drawn from the public and private sector.
The plan must draw on expertise of psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, counselors, family services professionals, asset protection practitioners, gun manufacturers, technologists, architects, local and federal law enforcement, and community leaders.
Key objectives to meet:
- early warning (behavioral signals);
- early intervention (at home, online, prior to and during the planning cycle); and
- deterrence — detection — delay — disruption on school premises.
The time till devastated parents stop trusting in the legitimacy of the current system is running out. When there’s no trust in the legitimacy of the system at a sufficient scale, social order deteriorates and the likelihood of widespread violence increases.
I don’t want to imagine what the next generation will think of us and what quality of life they will have if the status-quo continues.
Change is definitely possible. We just need to imagine a better life for our kids.
Soar above mediocrity.