Monday, May 21, 2018

Letter to Parents, "Warning Signs"

Dear Parents & Guardians,
The horror of watching the details unravel from one school shooting to the next is now accompanied by disbelief. How can this keep happening over and over? We’re all asking ourselves that question, and answers aren’t coming easily. But we’re learning from these terrible examples of violence, seeking patterns, clues and insight into what makes a individual resort to deadly aggression. 
I want to reinforce a few things here. Most importantly, if you or your child see or hear something that concerns you, say something to someone in authority (police, school principal, me, anyone). While school shooters do not have a specific profile, we are learning from the research of Peter Langman, Ph.D. ( that they all exhibit warning signs in the form of threats, attack related behaviors, and/or leakage. And just today, the Washington Post ran an article titled Why Do School Shootings Keep Happening? We Need to Listen. Be on the lookout for:
  • Threats
    • Direct: “I am going to bomb the school.”
    • Indirect: “If I wanted to, I could kill everyone at this school.”
    • Veiled: “The world would be better without certain people.”
    • Conditional: “If things don’t change, someone’s going to die.”
  • Attack Related Behavior
    • Diagramming the school
    • Writing a hit-list
    • Planning attack
    • Obtaining weapons and/or materials
    • Rehearsing or practicing with guns and/or bombs
  • Leakage
    • Bragging about an upcoming attack
    • Warning people to stay away
    • Trying to recruit peers to help with an attack
    • Writings, posts, photos, videos that suggest impending violence
This spring, a grassroots group of concerned parents has been working with West Vincent parent Dr. Kate Yurick and me to develop a district-wide comprehensive plan for teaching students and adults how to identify, intervene and get help for individuals at-risk of doing harm. An essential part of the plan is enlisting the help of parents to say something immediately to anyone in the school district’s administration.
With only a few weeks left in the school year, please continue to dialog with your children about school safety. If you have a concern, please don’t think twice about contacting the principal of your child’s school. In pursuit of a safe, secure and well-informed school community, we are better together. 

Dr. Susan T. Lloyd

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