With the attack in Connecticut just as in the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings, we grieve for the victims and their families, while we also search in earnest for an answer to the question of who’s to blame for these tragic events.
In general, I am a strong proponent of 1) not blaming others and 2) giving the benefit of the doubt.
However, when it comes to the search for increasing safety – in this case to protect our children and our educators – we need to fully analyze the situation and perform a root cause analysis to determine if there are more effective ways to try to prevent future deaths. Do we look at gun control, mental health delivery systems, school security, parents, or violent video games? Are there reasonable changes that we, as a society need to accomplish to keep our children safe?
There are also those who have put pointed fingers at schools for not adequately training teachers, staff, and students on how to adequately deal with these types of situations. As a positive psychologypractitioner, I believe in judging others favorably, believing the best in everyone, and that people are basically good. As a martial artist and self-defense instructor, I believe that knowing how to defend yourself is extremely important and that we can’t plan for mental illness or the aberrancy of certain individuals. We learn how to fight not because we hate those in front of us but because we love those behind us.
There have been some who have criticized Sandy Hook Elementary School for not adapting certain safety measures which teach children to “counter”, i.e distract and confuse an armed attacker, rather than sit and wait in a hopefully protected location. The truth is that we just can’t predict an outcome. Crazed armed gunmen may indeed be distracted and stop shooting when children are throwing things at them. On the other hand, in 2008 for an Ohio high school student who walked into a room with a gun and was “talked down” without shooting anyone, “counter” maneuvers may have incited more violence.