Sandy Hook School Shooter Had ‘Scorn For Humanity’

The contents of 1,000 pages of documents on the young man who killed 26 at a Connecticut school six years ago could be “part of a prevention formula for future mass shootings,” says the Hartford Courant.

More than 1,000 pages of documents obtained by the Hartford Courant from the Connecticut State Police, including Adam Lanza’s writings and a spreadsheet detailing the gruesome work of 400 perpetrators of mass violence, bring into focus the dark worldview of a 20-year-old who killed his mother, 26 people and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. The Lanza writings express a wide range of emotions and rigid doctrine, from a crippling aversion to a dropped towel, food mixing on his plate and the feel of a metal door handle, to a deep disdain for relationships, an intolerance of his peers, a contempt for overweight people and a conviction that certain aspects of living are worse than death. Lanza never was off the radar of his parents, teachers and counselors in his schools and the psychiatrists who tried to figure out what was happening with him. It is evident that no one grasped the full picture of what he was becoming.

By 14, a psychiatrist at Yale worried he was becoming a “homebound recluse.” The records suggest that his paralyzing obsessions, germophobia that prevented him from touching door handles with bare hands, a rigid set of beliefs, blacked-out windows of his bedroom and countless hours he spent playing combat video games, “would guarantee his place on the fringe, the Courant says. His isolation had its roots in speech delays as a child, the first of  diagnoses that included Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Sensory Integration Deficit, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. “I incessantly have nothing other than scorn for humanity,” he wrote to a fellow gamer. “I have been desperate to feel anything positive for someone for my entire life.” The newspaper called its story disturbing, but it “helps us identify and understand red flags that could be part of a prevention formula for future mass shootings.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

FL Officials Disclosed Little on Parkland Shooting

After 17 people were murdered in a Parkland, Fl., high school, school officials hired consultants and public relations advisers as part of a persistent effort to keep people from finding out what went wrong, says the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Immediately after 17 people were murdered inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Broward school district launched a persistent effort to keep people from finding out what went wrong, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel. For months, schools delayed or withheld records, refused to assess publicly the role of employees, spread misinformation and even sought to jail reporters who published the truth. New information gathered by the Sun Sentinel proves that the school district knew far more than it’s saying about a disturbed former student obsessed with death and guns who mowed down staff and students with an assault rifle on Valentine’s Day. After promising an honest assessment of what led to the shooting, the district hired a consultant whose primary goal was preparing a legal defense. Then it kept most findings from the public and spent untold amounts on lawyers to fight the release of records and nearly $200,000 on public relations consultants who advised administrators to clam up.

School administrators insist that federal privacy laws prevent them from disclosing the record of gunman Nikolas Cruz; that discussing security in detail would make schools more dangerous; and that answers will come when a state commission releases findings around Jan. 1. Behind a shield of privacy laws and security secrets, schools can cover up errors and withhold information the public needs in order to heal and to evaluate the people entrusted with their children’s lives. Nine months after the Parkland shooting, few people have been held accountable for mishandling security and failing to react to signs that the troubled Cruz could erupt. The school district’s own records reveal Nikolas Cruz to be a tortured teen liable to explode at any time. Yet the analysis the district commissioned to help the community “understand,” as its superintendent promised, makes no mention of those episodes.

from https://thecrimereport.org

How School Violence ‘Madness’ Robs Students of Help

Many school districts are spending money on fortifying school buildings at the expense of hiring counselors and psychologists, University of Virginia Prof. Dewey Cornell tells criminologists. He urges more emphasis on prevention.

Schools in the U.S. are much “safer than the public perceives,” says Dewey Cornell, forensic clinical psychologist and professor of education at the University of Virginia.

Speaking on Thursday at the American Society of Criminology convention in Atlanta, Cornell argued that a national “madness” surrounding mass school shootings has prompted many policymakers to spend money on fortifying school buildings at the expense of providing needed services to troubled students.

Cornell readily conceded that 301 people have been shot at schools, many of them fatally, since the Newtown, Ct., massacre in 2012.

Yet 500,000 people have been shot in non-school settings nationwide during the same period.

“You’re safer in schools than outside,” he said.

In Cornell’s view, the fear of school violence has prompted many educators to adopt a zero-tolerance policy that is “not effective,” expelling many students and making them worse in the process.

What school districts should do, he says, is adopt a thorough threat assessment procedure that “prevents school shootings before a gunman is at your door.”

Many Virginia schools have done that successfully, Cornell said.

He said threats by students and others should be investigated, but 99 percent of them will not be carried out. While many schools are pouring money into metal detectors, stronger doors, and locks, some counselors and psychologists are vastly underfunded, each responsible for 1,000 to 2,000 students, making it impossible to deal with all disturbed students.

Details of the University of Virginia’s prevention recommendations can be found at this site. Cornell spoke at a program on “Understanding, Preventing and Responding to Violence in the United States,” sponsored by the National Institute of Justice.

This report was prepared by Ted Gest, president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington Bureau chief of The Crime Report.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Billions For School Security, But Proof of Effectiveness Lacking

A Washington Post report on the growing industry meant to protect against school shootings includes results of a survey of schools where shootings occurred. The results: hardly any believe any safety technology would have made a difference.

Although school security has grown into a $2.7 billion market, little research has been done on which safety measures do and do not protect students from gun violence, the Washington Post reports. The Post surveyed every school in its database that had endured a shooting of some kind since the 2012 killings of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., which prompted a surge of security spending by districts across the country. Of the 79 schools contacted, 34 provided answers. When asked what, if anything, could have prevented the shootings at their schools, nearly half replied that there was nothing they could have done. Several, however, emphasized the critical importance of their staffs developing deep, trusting relationships with students, who often hear about threats before teachers do. Only one school suggested that any kind of safety technology might have made a difference. Many had robust security plans already in place but still couldn’t stop the incidents.

The survey responses are consistent with a federally funded 2016 study by Johns Hopkins University that concluded there was “limited and conflicting evidence in the literature on the short- and long-term effectiveness of school safety technology.” Fear has long dictated what schools invest in, and although campus shootings remain extremely rare, many superintendents are under intense pressure from parents to do something — anything — to make their kids safer. The security industry is rife with self-appointed experts and consultants who claim to know what safety measures are most effective, but given that so little government or academic research has been done on what insulates students from on-campus gun violence, it’s enormously difficult for schools to reach conclusions based in fact, the Post reported. The dollar estimate of the industry’s size does not include the billions more spent on armed campus police officers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

CT Court Orders Release of Newtown Shooter’s Papers

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that documents and journals belonging to Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza will be released to the public. It was a victory for the Hartford Courant in a five-year battle to obtian the information.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that documents and journals belonging to Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza will be released to the public, a key victory in the Hartford Courant’s five-year battle to obtain the information, the Courant reports. The newspaper sought access to the documents that state police removed from the home in Newtown where Lanza killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, before driving to the school and killing 26 people, including 20 first graders, before killing himself. In a unanimous decision, the court ordered a lower court judge to reverse himself and deny the state’s appeal of a Freedom of Information Commission decision that ordered the items released.

“Since the day of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Courant has worked to advance the understanding of how so heinous a tragedy could happen and we applaud today’s decision as we feel these documents are necessary for us to tell a complete story in our reporting,” said Andrew Julien, the Courant’s publisher and editor-in-chief. “Understanding what a mass killer was thinking not only paints a clearer picture of the individual, it helps us identify and understand red flags that could be part of a prevention formula for future mass shootings.” The court rejected several arguments the attorney general’s office made to keep the records sealed, including that the documents were the property of the state or that they were the private property of Nancy and Adam Lanza and shouldn’t be considered public documents because they were seized through a search warrant and never used as evidence in a criminal case.

from https://thecrimereport.org

School And Mass Shooting Data Are Wrong

Observations Data on school and mass shootings are often wrong and continue a history of misinformation when it comes to crimes against children. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior […]

The post School And Mass Shooting Data Are Wrong appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

Observations Data on school and mass shootings are often wrong and continue a history of misinformation when it comes to crimes against children. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior […]

The post School And Mass Shooting Data Are Wrong appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

from https://www.crimeinamerica.net

NPR Can Verify Only 11 of 240 Reported School Shootings

The U.S. Education Department reported shootings at 240 schools in 2015-2016. NPR says most of them never happened.

This spring the U.S. Education Department said that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools … reported at least one incident involving a school-related shooting.” The total is far higher than most other estimates. NPR reached out to every one of those schools and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened. Child Trends, a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization, assisted NPR in analyzing data from the federal Civil Rights Data Collection. Only 11 incidents were confirmed. In 161 cases, schools or districts said no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, something happened, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. “When we’re talking about such an important and rare event, [this] amount of data error could be very meaningful,” says Deborah Temkin of Child Trends.

Asked for comment, the Education Department said it would update some of these data  this fall. NPR’s reporting highlights how difficult it can be to track school-related shootings and how researchers, educators and policymakers are hindered by a lack of data on gun violence. The Civil Rights Data Collection required every public school — more than 96,000 — to answer questions on a wide range of issues. One question was, “Has there been at least one incident at your school that involved a shooting (regardless of whether anyone was hurt)?” The answer — “nearly 240 schools (0.2 percent of all schools)” — was published this spring. The government’s definition included any discharge of a weapon at school-sponsored events or on school buses. Even so, that would be a rate of shootings much higher than anyone else had ever found.

from https://thecrimereport.org

School Safety Measures Expand After Parkland Shooting

About one-third of today’s parents fear for their child’s safety in school, finds a Phi Delta Kappa poll. That’s the highest proportion since 1998 and a steep increase from 2013, when the number was only 12 percent. Schools are using more devices like security cameras, metal detectors and bullet-resistant doors.

As students troop into new classrooms and teachers put finishing touches on lesson plans, concern over school safety in an age of mass shootings is at an all-time high, reports USA Today. About one-third of today’s parents fear for their child’s safety in school, finds a poll by Phi Delta Kappa. That’s the highest proportion since 1998 and a steep increase from 2013, when the number was only 12 percent. Schools are taking action to confront the reality that they could be the next target. From sophisticated surveillance technology to programs that train and arm staff, many school boards have new safety measures. “Twenty years ago, we weren’t even trained to do active-shooter drills in the school,” said Curtis Lavarello of the School Safety Advocacy Network, which helps schools assess  vulnerabilities and develop safety plans. “Our primary goal now in law enforcement is to make sure that the school is equipped to handle the very worst of the worst.”

The Parkland, Fl., school shooting and a burst of activism by survivors cemented gun violence in the public conversation for longer than usual. “I’ve never seen this phenomenon,” Lavarello said. Parkland “happened last February, and it still seems as fresh in everybody’s mind today as it did right after it occurred.” Requests for help with safety plans jumped 60 percent since last year. Parkland students returned to classes Aug. 15 amid guards, locks and 52 new security cameras. Santa Fe, Tx., High School, site of a shooting that killed 10 in May, greeted students with metal detectors and armed officers Monday. Charleston County, S.C., schools are experimenting with bullet-resistant doors. New Hampshire’s Londonderry school district allows teachers to press a panic button on their computers and alert authorities. A Haverhill, Ma., school installed a network that identifies the sound of gunfire and alerts officials.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Man Accused in N.M. of Training Youth for School Violence

A suspected child abductor found with 11 children and four other adults at a squalid New Mexico compound had trained at least one of the minors to use an assault rifle in preparation for a school shooting, prosecutors said.

A suspected child abductor found with 11 children and four other adults at a squalid New Mexico compound had trained at least one of the minors to use an assault rifle in preparation for a school shooting, prosecutors said Wednesday, reports the Washington Post. The children, between the ages of 1 and 15, were taken to the compound by some adults for the purpose of receiving weapons training for future acts of violence. Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, who was wanted on suspicion that he had abducted his 3-year-old son, was arrested along with four other adults after Taos County officials raided the barren property in the midst of scrubland on Friday. A judge ordered the group held without bond.

The arrests were the culmination of a months-long search for the missing child, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. The young boy was not among the 11 children found at the property, and investigators are working to identify a child’s remains that they say they found in the area after getting a second search warrant. The search for Abdul-Ghani began nine months ago in Jonesboro, Ga., where his mother told police that her husband had taken him to a park and never returned. The boy was encephalopathic, had trouble walking, suffered from seizures and required an emergency medication that the father did not have, his mother told police. Law enforcement officials in Taos County said they received information about a child who had been abducted by their father in May. And the compound in Amalia, N.M., had not gone unnoticed by local law enforcement authorities, who surveilled the location in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and noticed that it had a shooting range.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Federal Panel Hears Chilly Response to ‘School Sentinels’

The commission on school safety held a “listening session” in Cheyenne, Wyo., where attendees were cool to the idea of arming teachers. It’s like “asking your plumber to cut your hair,” said one school principal.

While President Trump and the NRA have touted the idea of arming school staffers, educators, students and citizens who showed up Tuesday for a federal school safety commission “listening session” in ruby-red Wyoming, a state that allows its districts to arm certain school staff members, were deeply divided on the proposal, reports Education Week. Brian Cox, principal of Johnson Junior High School in Cheyenne, where the event was held, said he’d rather see resources directed to mental health. “Asking school personnel to do the job of law enforcement and military personnel is nothing short of asking your plumber to cut your hair. It’s just not the job you’d want them to do,” Cox said. But Bill Tallen, executive at a business that trains school staff to carry weapons, said, “When shooting starts, the only way to mitigate the consequences, to protect innocent lives, is to have armed adults at the school able to swiftly engage and stop the shooter before police arrive and to provide life-saving, immediate medical care to the injured.”

The commission is charged with making policy recommendations in the wake of the Feb. 14 school massacre in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 people dead. This was the commission’s third of four listening sessions. Its chair, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, was absent. So were three other cabinet members on the commission, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Secretary Alex Azar of Health and Human Services. Each sent a representative. Wyoming and South Dakota allow school districts to decide whether to let teachers carry guns after going through special training, but only a handful of these “sentinels” have signed on, officials said.

from https://thecrimereport.org