When young people commit violent crimes, it can be hard to process. In the past year we've seen a number of nationally covered shootings committed by adolescent gunmen, and the debate often turns to whether violent video games lead to real violence. And Tuesday someone who backs that idea spoke to nearly 300 first responders at the College Station Hilton.
"How many kids are killed by school fires in the last 50 years? Zero. How many kids have been killed by school violence?" questioned Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman to a room filled with nearly 300 first responders.
Retired Army Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, a former Army Ranger and psychology professor at the U.S. Military Academy shared a message and answered many questions that plague the minds of so many.
"Why are kids committing crimes like nothing seen before in human history?" he asked.
The message is alarming, but he says it's a reality that needs to be checked.
"We have fire sprinklers, fire exits, fire alarms, fire drills, fire trucks and fire hydrants; we've got to prepare for violence like we prepare for fire,” Grossman said.
Grossman trains law enforcement agencies across the country to prepare for violent attacks by terrorists, but he says now more than ever, is the growing concern of violence perpetrated in our schools by other children. He attributes violence in schools to violent movies and video games. Since retiring from the army in 1998, he has devoted himself to teaching, writing and training military and law enforcement organizations worldwide about the reality of combat
"Grossman: They take pleasure in human death in suffering and they become our school killers and bullies,” Grossman said.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Juvenile Violence, "Children don't naturally kill; they learn it from violence in the home and most pervasively, from violence as entertainment in television, movies, and interactive video games.
“For a while one of my sons was playing these video game where you shoot these soldiers, and when we discovered it we told him to stop and ironically a few weeks later he told his mom and I that he felt less angry, so apparently that video game was making him more angry then he realized,” said Brazos County Constable Rick Starnes.
"Many, if not most, potential school attacks can be deterred, simply by the presence of armed responders," Grossman said. "School administrators and police have gotten much better at this, but they need to keep vigilant and take threats seriously." For a while one of my sons was playing these video game where you shoot these soldiers, and when we discovered it we told him to stop and ironically a few weeks later he told his mom and I that he felt less angry, so apparently that video game was making him more angry then he realized.
For example if you’ve ever played, watched or even listened to Call of Duty, you’ll know firsthand the real life scenarios the video game puts players through. It’s one of the most popular games on the shelf, and although it's rated M for mature, the violence that takes place inside it -- has been echoed in real life -- and Grossman says action needs to be taken -- now.
Grossman laid out three steps to preventing most school massacres and limiting the damage from those that do occur: Deter, Detect, and Delay.
“We've got to get rid of denial,” said Grossman. “Oprah Winfrey said ‘Listen to your fear.’ Fear is a survival signal. Take action on your fear; it's denial that gets you killed; and then we've got to deter it. There are people on scene that can shoot back but the killer just doesn't try. Then we detect it and then we've got to delay it.”
Both Grossman and Starnes agree it will take a collaborative effort, but over time, can help make not just schools but the community a safer place to be.
“That's why I'm glad Colonel Grossman is here for us as a community to be proactive, and I pray as he says, that it never happens again, but we need to be prepared because I believe the most precious gift God gives us are our children,” said Starnes.
Lt. Colonel Grossman and his traveling seminar was brought to the Brazos Valley by the Public Safety Planning Division at the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.