We tend to think of tragedies as a single terrible moment, rather than the result of multiple bad decisions. Can this pattern be reversed? We try — with stories about wildfires, school shootings, and love. – Freakonomics Podcast with Stephen Dubner
School safety can’t be a learning culture, because the consequences are too serious. – David Riedman
This excellent podcast is a conversation between gun violence researcher David Riedman and Stephen Dubner, author, journalist, and host of Freakonomics. According to David, “The causal chain leading up to a school shooting has dozens of events and every single one of them needs to be a failure for the shooting to occur, any single success can break the chain and prevent the shooting from happening.”
David has spent years looking at the chain of events for hundreds and hundreds of school shootings to understand how the violent acts could have been interrupted. We can prevent almost every one of the attacks if we understand who could have prevented the shooting. The truth, according to David and his colleagues, based on their intense study of this important topic, is that “anyone” can stop a school shooting.
The podcast includes an interview with Aaron Stark, a man now living a productive life with a family and career, but had intended to be a school shooter as a result of a traumatic childhood. His plans were interrupted by the kindness of one person, who broke the chain of events that would have led up to an unthinkable school tragedy. Most often these mass shootings and school shootings are actually public suicides. These events can be interrupted because they are predictable and, therefore preventable. The power of connection, compassion, and understanding of the red flags are potential successful interventions to break the chain of events before the would-be shooter pulls the trigger. There is always a chance to intercede through simple human connection.
David’s interview starts at 35:00, but the entire hour is worth your time.