As security professionals, I’m sure we’re all tuned in to the Murrysville, Pa. stabbing rampage of a 16-year-old Alex Hribal, who brought two kitchen knives, 8 to 10 inches in length, to his high school. Using the knives as weapons, Hribal slashed and stabbed a total of 20 students and a security officer before assistant principal, Sam King, tackled Hribal, detaining him for authorities.
One of the many eerie parts of this tragic story is the fact that most students didn’t even realize they had been stabbed, leading outsiders to believe that hallways were crowded, allowing Hribal to execute his reign of terror within the walls of Franklin Regional Senior High School. This leads me to believe that Hribal actually took the time to analyze and think out when the perfect time would be to begin his stabbing spree.
Dr. Timothy VanFleet, chief of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who treated six victims said, “They just felt pain and noticed they were bleeding. Almost all of them said they didn’t see anyone coming at them.”
I can’t even imagine being in a crowded hallway, felling a rush of pain, looking down and realizing that blood was gushing from my body. Reality at that moment would be surreal.
I feel like I'm seeing a pattern with these children who are shooting and stabbing people in their schools. It seems that most of them are shy and/or quiet and keep to themselves.
According to a sophomore student at Franklin Regional Senior High School, she said that Hribal was “really shy” and “always kept to himself…he didn’t talk to many people.”
As an ex-teacher, I really wonder what the adults (parents, teachers, counselors, librarians, custodians, etc.) are doing to ensure that they are tuned in to ALL students. It's so important for students to feel like they belong to a group...not at all saying that belonging to a group is the answer to school violence, but if a child has an outlet for whatever is going on in his or her life that he or she perceives is so terrible to kill or attempt to kill, then
a.) A group could be an outlet to disassociate from the student's reality or perceived reality, whether it's the a chess, movie or book club; being on a team; or some other type of group; and
b.) By belonging to a group, the child could divulge information that he or she intends to do harm, and hopefully, it could be intercepted in a healthy way.
We all know school violence is increasing and that something must be done to prevent it. We’re getting good at acting during and after violent acts at schools; however, we must become more proactive, preventing violence occurring in the first place.
Pictures from NY Daily News and The Australian.