April 18, 2007
The tragedy at Virginia Tech is unspeakably horrifying. My heart and prayers go out to the victims and their families and friends. Most of the news swarm around the tragedy spills too much ink on vapid generalizations and sensationalized attention on the murderer. An exception is the Chicago Tribune’s article “Limits to Campus Security” (by Jodi S. Cohen and Rex W. Huppke, published April 16, 2007; free registration required), with clear-eyed reporting on security vulnerabilities, the underreporting of campus crime, and the need for updated and improved crisis management plans.
I’m not interested in hearing any more editorials or reading any more opinion pieces that could just as easily be dusted off and used again when the next school shooting occurs. I’d like to see more journalism examining whether law enforcement response in our community would be rapid and strategic enough to make a difference in a situation when every minute matters, and whether school safety planning has rigorously addressed all possible worst-case scenarios, or whether those in charge of our children’s safety are simply playing the odds. And I’d like to see more research focusing on effective ways in which students in a classroom, school or campus–whether college, high school, middle school or grade school–might be better protected and might better protect themselves against an attacker who is determined to kill. More of the proactive, less of the post-mortem, please.