The Duncan Banner

February 20, 2013

Grossman addresses school violence at two-day conference

Megan Bristow
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN —  

“The kids in school are more likely to kill by violence than any other possible cause of death put together,” Retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman said. “That is a failure. That is an absolute failure on society’s part. So we begin the systematic process of preparing for violence like we prepare for fire.” 
Grossman was brought in by the Stephens County District Attorney’s Office to present to area law enforcement, educators and businesses “Lessons from Jonesboro, Littleton, and Vietnam: How Kids are Learning to Kill and Learning to Like It.” The conference held Tuesday and Wednesday at New Hope Baptist Church focused on what area leaders can do ensure the safety of students and what leaders can do to prepare for tragic instances of school violence.
“We focused on keeping the kids safe and what we can do,” Grossman said. “Not a single kid has been killed by school fire in over 50 years in America but every year, dozens of kids are killed by school violence. The Department of Justice tells us in 1997 we had 57 dead by violence in our school. In 2006, we had 63 killed by violence in our school. How many were killed by fire that year? We must prepare for violence like firefighters prepares for fire. We have fire sprinklers, fire exits, fire alarms, fire trucks, fire drills, and fire hydrants. But what do we do for violence?”
Grossman said that students have to be taught what to do in an emergency situation and teachers have to learn preparation techniques that will allow them to appear calm in the middle of violent attacks.
“Schools have got to keep the exterior doors locked,” he said. “They have to keep their interior doors locked, keep their classroom doors locked. They have to have done lock down drills. They have to prepared for the possibility.”
“We teach kindergartners stop, drop and roll,” Grossman said. “We teach kindergartners what to do when they catch on fire. It does not cause trauma. It does not make them have nightmares. They think it is cool. Now, we are teaching them what to do if a bad man comes in their room. We teach them if you are in a safe place stay there. If you have a way, get out of there. If it is no longer a safe place, get out of there. If the only way out is through the bad guy, everybody throws a book, throws a pencil, charges and gets past him.”
In his conference, Grossman stressed the importance or preparation for educators as well as law enforcement officials. Grossman hit on topics such as sleep management, mental preparation and keeping calm under pressure. He also supported the idea of armed educators kept in school if it was appropriate for the school.
“Utah has had armed educators in their schools for decades,” he said. “It works and it works well. Texas has had armed educators in their schools for decades. We have principals and teachers who are military veterans or prior service police officers with enormous skills. If the school district thinks it is appropriate, there is no reason why they should not be carrying a gun in school to protect their kids. Because most times by the time the cop arrives, it is too late.”
Grossman said he believed that allowing educators to fight for their children in violent situations would be much more effective than hiring security guards or other personnel to control these situations because the teachers view students as their own teachers.
“To have someone protect their children, that is easy,” he said. “That is what we were designed to do. If we give permission to fight their children, they will and they will do it well. We just have to give them permission.”
Grossman was brought in largely by the efforts of District Attorney Jason Hicks, who worked to get Grossman to Duncan and secure funding and support for the conference. However, he gave credit for the idea to Duncan Police Department Patrol Captain Brian Attaway. Hicks said he sat down with Attaway to come up with a way to address the issue of school violence. 
“It was a no-brainer because of what has been happening,” Hicks said. “It was very easy to make the decision to bring him in.”
Hicks said about 300 people showed up for the event including educators, business leaders and law enforcement officials from Duncan, Stephens County, Grady County, Lawton, Fort Sill, Norman and Oklahoma City. 
In the days following the conference, Hicks said he plans to meet with leaders in the community to discuss what steps and ideas from the conference need to be implemented in order to keep kids in school safe and ensure that no violent tragedy occurs.
“Whatever it takes, whatever we need to do; we will,” Hicks said.