While the Connecticut school massacre last month was the inspiration for Tuesday’s school safety summit, those participating say you need to examine the problem from a certain distance. “Violence actually peaked around the late eighties (or) early nineties with the crack epidemic (and) a lot of community violence,” says Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. He says the school shootings are “just a spillover of societal violence. We have to talk about violence in a more global sense; not just school shooting violence, which happens very, very rarely.”
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Another leader says being proactive can be difficult, because the warning signs are inconsistent. “How do we create that feedback from teachers and administrators to law enforcement, and from students to the administration, that they have access to this type of information?” says Illinois Emergency Management Agency director Jonathon Monken. “When the FBI did a study on the last ten years’ worth of mass shootings, (they found that in) eighty percent of those shootings, someone peripheral to the perpetrator had specific information to know something was going to happen, and in sixty percent of cases, there were two or more people” who knew.
Hasbrouck says while school gunmen do tend to have mental health problems, the problem of “school shootings is just the tip of the iceberg.”