Understanding Child Active Shooters with Dr. Peter Langman
Our CEO and Co-Founder, Tom Czyz, started a podcast called One Step Ahead where he talks to people from all walks of life who have pushed through some form of adversity or who are experts in their fields. Tom’s very first guest on One Step Ahead was Dr. Peter Langman. Dr. Langman is a world-renowned psychologist who has studied child active shooters extensively. His expertise has been trusted by the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. You can learn more about Dr. Langman and his numerous accolades here.
There Is No “One-Size-Fits-All” Active Shooter Profile
Dr. Langman makes it clear that there isn’t a standard when it comes to profiles of child active shooters. Many people, especially with the help of the media, like to categorize these individuals as the loner, the kid who was bullied, the one who was weird. However, this narrative doesn’t work when looking at actual attackers. For instance, the attacker at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California. He had many friends and a girlfriend. He was a seemingly normal kid. Or, the attacker at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. He had just been named Homecoming Prince and killed his own friends.
Being bullied is not the primary reason that kids become active shooters in schools. As Dr. Langman explained on the podcast, most kids get bullied at some point in their school lives, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to go on to do something as drastic as kill their peers. He states, “You can’t explain something that’s extraordinarily rare, by pointing to something that’s extraordinarily common.” While he agrees that bullying can be one of many factors as to why attacks happen, he says there is no real correlation between just bullying and mass murder. While the media likes to point to a simplistic explanation for active shooter attacks, there are many underlying factors that actually influence an attacker to act.
The Truth? It Can Happen Anywhere
What’s important for everyone to realize – parents, teachers, administrators, law enforcement, etc. – school shootings can happen anywhere, and they have. The attack in Newtown, Connecticut happened at an elementary school in an affluent neighborhood. The attack in Santa Clarita, California took place in a community that was considered ideal for families to raise their children. It’s even happened in one-room school houses in Amish country, Pennsylvania. Dr. Langman realized this early on which prompted him to write his book Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters to help people better understand these attackers.
In his early career Dr. Langman worked extensively with youth who had thoughts of killing their peers. When he decided to write his book, he took a deeper look into the personalities, traumatic history, mental health issues, and more, of individuals who carried out attacks in the past. This research, combined with his previous work, allowed him to write a comprehensive study about the minds of those individuals and why the cause is not as simple as bullying. His expanded research, along with more attacks that have happened in recent years, allowed him to write a second book called School Shooters: Understanding High School, College, and Adult Perpetrators.
What Can You Do?
School District – One of the most important things a district can do is to be prepared for an attack, understanding that it can happen in their community. Active shooter preparedness training is available both in person and online. Dr. Langman agrees that it’s important for a district to train all of their faculty and staff, not just select adults. The more adults on scene that are prepared to respond appropriately, the more lives can be saved.
Parents – Pay attention to your kids and teens. Pay attention to what they’re doing online, what they’re researching, what they’re reading, how they are acting, what they’re obsessing over. Dr. Langman says it’s important for parents to have, “a sense of what your kids are interested in and what they’re up to, who their friends are, and are they doing anything illegal with explosives and firearms.” Encourage your school administrators to invest in active shooter preparedness training, building security risk assessments, and even in shooter-attack certified, bullet-resistant glass and film.
Regardless of the budget available to use, there are a number of options to help protect students and staff inside schools.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to protect your schools, visit our website or give us a call today.
To learn more about Dr. Langman and his research, visit his website here: https://schoolshooters.info
To listen to Dr. Langman’s episode on the One Step Ahead Podcast, visit the links below.