Trinity County Office of Education
Sarah Supahan – County Superintendent of Schools
www.tcoek12.org • (530) 623-2861
How do we prevent a school shooting in Trinity County?
According to a recent report from the US Secret Service in which they reviewed multiple school shootings, there are things that many attackers had in common. The first is that most attackers used firearms, and those firearms were most often acquired from their home or from the home of a relative. In fact, between 70 and 90% of guns used in youth suicide, unintentional shootings and school shootings are acquired from the home or the homes of friends or relatives.
While many of the firearms were unsecured, in several cases the attackers were able to gain access to firearms that were secured in a locked gun safe or case. In another study it’s reported that 4.6 million minors in the US live in homes with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm. 73% of children under age 10 living in homes with guns reported knowing the location of their parents’ firearms, and 36% admitted they had handled the weapons. Nearly a quarter of parents did not know that their children had handled a gun in their home.
This is perhaps the most important way to prevent a school shooting: guns must be locked up and children should not have access. The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office have cable locks available, free to the public.
In the Secret Service study ALL attackers experienced social stressors involving their relationships with peers and/or boyfriends or girlfriends. Nearly every attacker experienced negative home life factors such as separation or divorce, drug use, criminal charges among family members, and domestic abuse, although none of these factors predict violent behavior.
Most attackers were victims of bullying, and this bullying was often witnessed by others. For over half of the attackers, the bullying appeared to be persistent, lasting weeks, months or years. Most attackers had a history of school disciplinary actions such as being suspended, expelled, or having law enforcement interactions as a result of their behavior at school. School districts in Trinity County are working hard to eliminate bullying and reduce suspensions.
Perhaps most importantly, ALL attackers showed concerning behaviors before the attack and most communicated their intent to attack to someone, sometimes the target. In many cases, someone observed a threatening message or behavior, but did not act either out of fear, not believing the threat was real, or because they thought they had talked the attacker out of their plan to attack.
Reporting on ANY concerning behavior to a school administrator, a counselor, or law enforcement is perhaps the second most important action that will prevent a school shooting. In Trinity County we also have the 1Tip line. Anyone can call or text to 739-1TIP or send an anonymous email to www.anonymoustips.com. The 1TIP non-emergency line can be used to pass on any vital information to the authorities and school officials concerning any threats to students and schools. For an immediate response to an urgent situation, call 911. Any concern, no matter how small, should be reported. It just might save a life.