It's been quite a while since I noticed something in the news positive enough to inspire me to write about it, but at last something truly great has happened.
According to the MSNBC.com article in the title link:
Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded if a gunman invades the classroom, but to rush him and hit him with everything they've got — books, pencils, legs and arms.
Students are also instructed not to comply with a gunman’s orders, and to take him down.
Aim for head
Browne recommends students and teachers “react immediately to the sight of a gun by picking up anything and everything and throwing it at the head and body of the attacker and making as much noise as possible. Go toward him as fast as we can and bring them down.”
Response Options trains students and teachers to “lock onto the attacker’s limbs and use their body weight,” Browne said. Everyday classroom objects, such as paperbacks and pencils, can become weapons.
“We show them they can win,” he said. “The fact that someone walks into a classroom with a gun does not make them a god. Five or six seventh-grade kids and a 95-pound art teacher can basically challenge, bring down and immobilize a 200-pound man with a gun.”
I think that this a fantastic lesson for the following reasons:
- It completely removes the payoff/reward that an attacker is looking for
- It teaches children that sometimes it is worth to risking your own safety in order to protect others from harm
- It teaches kids that crime and cruelty do not pay
People that attack schools typically have some very specific objectives in mind. They are angry about something and are trying to lash out in the worst possible way. They desire as much media attention and publicity as possible so that EVERYONE will see the terrible vengeance they are wreaking upon a society that they believe wronged them. They also generally want a period of total absolute power over a group of helpless and terrified people. They want to savor the power of life and death over others while they watch people cower, tremble and beg. At the pinnacle of this, they then take their own life so that nobody can ever take this moment of triumph away from them or punish them for their terrible actions.
If everyone instantly and mercilessly attacked such people on sight, they would be denied everything they want to achieve. There would be no cowering, begging for mercy nor a prolonged moment of power over others. There is no time for news helicopters to circle the campus or camera crews to fill the parking lot to memorialize their actions. Instead of obtaining power and attention, the attacker would find themselves on the defensive, receiving injuries or death at the hands of the intended victims, and most likely will end up captured, prosecuted and imprisoned. Instead of a few moments of supreme power, the attacker will ultimately end up in pain and spend many years as a helpless prisoner of our justice system.
During a battle some children or teachers may be killed or injured but the attacker will still be denied the specific "reward" that they came for. This is much better than the certain death they will face if they meekly cooperate with an attacker. If the news was filled with stories of attackers being beaten, captured and imprisoned, sociopaths would be less likely to attack schools because they would realize that they are unlikely to achieve their objectives. Over time, such attacks would diminish.
When students are taught to fight back, they will learn that saving the lives of their classmates is a noble goal. Zero-tolerance anti-violence policies that punish students for self defense and pacifist rhetoric have been teaching people that it is better to be a victim or allow others to be harmed than it is to fight for what is right. The news often features stories of people being raped, robbed or beaten in public places while passersby look the other way and try not to get involved. If students are taught to defend themselves and others, the world will become a better place. Keep in mind that 9/11 probably would have failed if the passengers on all of the planes had fought back.
If people learn from an early age that those who commit crimes will be opposed by everyone within sight, they will be less likely to commit crimes themselves. Consider the Columbine attackers Harris and Klebold. They were supposedly unhappy bullied kids who plotted revenge against their tormentors and the people who witnessed their victimization. If kids were taught to fight bullies and attackers, chances are good that the Columbine killers would have experienced less victimization and thus would have been less enraged against their classmates. Far more important, if the Columbine killers knew with total certainty that the moment they pulled a gun on their classmates EVERYONE would have tried to kill them, they might not have had the guts to engage their classmates in mortal combat. Remember, they wanted to inflict fear and retribution from a position of power. They may have been willing to die on their own terms, but they did not want to be defeated by their intended victims before accomplishing their objectives.
I hope that this bold idea catches on and that more schools embrace a method that will discourage attacks rather than train more people to become helpless victims and tolerate evil.