Lt Col. Dave Grossman has written numerous books on the topic of survival mindset and the psychological realities killing from both the military/law enforcement realm as well as the civilian setting of criminal/terrorist violence. He very astutely developed the “social classification” of personality types that humans tend to fit into. To paraphrase his work (I strongly suggest you read his material as it is authoritative and well researched), there are; the wolves – criminals and terrorists with no moral compunction about using violence to get what they want and who comprise a small minority of the population but who have huge influence because of their willingness to use violence; the sheep – the people who do not know how to use violence or are remiss to do so because of moral concerns and look to others to save them or accept subjugation rather than risk fighting, forming the majority of society; and the sheepdog – those who are proficient in the use of violence and will not hesitate to use it – but only use it on the wolves to defend the sheep.
Now this is where the psychology gets interesting. The wolves look for the path of least resistance to gain their bounties and thus the sheep who are infirm and unable to protect themselves along with the timid sheep who would rather be put upon than stand up to protect themselves are the prime targets. These sheep try to justify why the wolves think like they do, trying to fit the social conditioning they cling to into the frame of behavior the wolves display in their asocial minds. The sheep try to mollify the wolves, and in so doing empower the wolves and embrace their own servitude, all the while protesting the presence of the sheepdogs, whose actions will defeat the wolves because they use the same tools as the wolves employ. The sheep only like the sheepdogs when they fear for their lives and need someone to act against the wolves rather than simply talk about acting or try to explain away the wolves’ actions.
So it is in the field of educational safety concerning the issue of asocial violence in school settings. Columbine, Virginia Tech, and too many other school shootings, knifings and other attacks have paralyzed the educational community because they cannot effectively stop the violence using the cry to the sheepdog since most of the violence is done before and effective response can reasonably be expected. They can’t talk to the wolves and make nice because the wolves just want to kill them, and they don’t know how to act with any sense of individual proactive response since they have never trained or admitted the need for such training. Inside the school populations themselves, zero tolerance policies just force those who would defend themselves into accepting victimhood, the wolves don’t play by social rules so we simply provide train the wolves to use violence against what is typically a very compliant group of targets.
We have seen gun control pushes, cameras and all other manner of bromides pushed but the bottom line is until our educators mandate cost-effective tactical training to give teachers and students hiding in place a chance to defend the classroom, we will have ever mounting body counts in our educational workplace. We, both members of the public and educators, should insist that, however unpleasant the idea of responding to asocial violence in schools may be for our teachers and administrators, they must learn the essentials of defending the classroom and other designated safe rooms in a school in order to provide stop gap protection until the threat is over. Only when we face this issue head on will we overcome the paralysis that fear and ignorance have created in our emergency violence response training as it now stands.