Airs Wednesday, February 20 at 10:00 PM on WVIZ/PBS
Ever since the wake-up call that was Columbine, schools and law enforcement have developed multiple strategies to prevent attacks. Indeed, the horror of Newtown needs to be seen in a context that’s not defined by defeat. Remarkably, more than 120 school assaults have been thwarted in the past ten years. But, while security hardware and physical barriers can play a deterrent role, it’s been psychologists working hand in hand with law enforcement officers who have come up with the most helpful tools to prevent violent attacks. The Path to Violence tells the story of a powerfully effective Secret Service program - the Safe School Initiative - that’s helped schools detect problem behavior in advance. Yet, despite the progress made, recent attacks reveal a gaping hole in our safety net. Shooters like Adam Lanza, Jared Loughner and James Holmes all executed their attacks after they’d left their respective schools. In such cases, parents may be the first and only line of defense parents who are terrified of their own children and who receive inadequate help from the mental health and legal systems. Can the hard-won gains made by social psychologists and law enforcement be extended to encompass the parents and families of some of the nation’s most violent individuals?Further, is the country ready to have a national conversation about the balance between school safety and civil liberties that any such interventions ? including gun control ? require?