Rep. Jackie Speier holds gun violence prevention summit


In Redwood City at the Oracle Conference Center the event was packed. The conference was for educators, law enforcement, mental health professionals and elected representatives all working on local solutions for preventing gun violence at schools.

If you look at the shooting at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 or any number of others where students murder their classmates, experts will tell you there were warnings.

"In the school shootings we studied there were always advanced warnings sometimes as much as nine months in advance of the actual shooting," said Katherine Newman, Ph.D., from Johns Hopkins University.

Newman is the author of Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings. She said, "They would hear things like, 'We'll see who lives or dies on Monday' or 'I'm going to be running from the cops so you won't see me for a while.'"

The dean of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University was a keynote speaker at Monday's conference hosted by Speier.

"There are cues that people knew about were either afraid to comment on because they were peers and didn't want to be snitches, they were adults and didn't want to be telling another parent how to be raising their kids," said Speier.

Speier says finding ways to overcome that code of silence is one of the goals of this conference.

A Millbrae middle school principal told the audience her school is doing it.

"We had a field trip for 900 kids," said Taylor Middle School principal Lesley Martin, Ph.D.

In October Martin took the entire student body and staff to see the movie "Bully". The makers of that film were so impressed they sent a crew to Taylor Middle School to document the field trip and the anti-bullying programs the school has instituted in the months since then.

"We've had a peer mediation with kids talking with kids talking to kids about conflict resolution," said Martin.

Martin says suspensions are down by half, there are fewer detentions, and it is working.

"My feeling is it's a more safer, caring place," said

The sheriff of San Mateo County says violence is schools is a local problem and finding local solutions is a big part of what's needed.

"We can't wait for Washington to solve it, we've got to do it at the local level," said San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks.

As a result of this conference, Speier says she'll create three task forces: one to work on mental health issues, one on communications between agencies that respond to gun violence in schools and she wants the third to take up the issue of guns. She's not giving up on the gun control issue in spite of this month's vote in Congress.

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