West Virginia University school counseling expert Jeff Daniels is studying schools that have successfully averted shootings, noting the nation can learn as much from those schools as it can from studying “the school shooter.”

Jeff Daniels Professor and Department Chair Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling & Counseling Psychology College of Education and Human Services

“My students and I interviewed school personnel and law enforcement officers who intervened to prevent a school attack. Across schools and interviewees, several prominent themes emerged. Perhaps most telling, schools that averted a shooting took active steps to break the ‘code of silence,’ which is a common phenomenon across school shootings. Essentially, the code of silence suggests that when students hear of a threat or an impending attack, they often fail to tell anyone about it. Breaking the code of silence was accomplished through establishing trusting relationships between faculty, staff and students, which often comes through treating all students with dignity and respect. Schools also worked to distinguish between snitching (telling on somebody to get them in trouble) and helping (telling on somebody to get them help). We also found that common across schools that prevented an attack was taking all rumors seriously and then acting on them immediately.”

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