One big player in determining how safe any school or environment can be is the Code of Silence. On a high school campus, this unwritten law enjoys health and wealth. The deliberate choice to remain silent in the face of moral outrage thrives in an era of collective "don't ask don't tell." How ironic, in this era of instant messaging, that the code of silence still supports so many egregious acts. Yet this glaring contradiction can become a savior. It just might be the key to preventing crimes of group-think that outrage and threaten so many.
Some new studies show that the availability of anonymous outlets for reporting crucial information are having a real impact in preventing the serious crimes that threaten school security. Some have even suggested that the presence of anonymous "counseling" seems to have a real impact on helping those in need actually seek help. Here's how this might work. Within a particular school/community, students have phone numbers or social networking addresses available to them 24/7 when the need arises.
Kids easily adapt to the technology; this has real promise. Just imagine, if any of the onlookers at the Richmond H.S. tragedy had been tempted to break the code. Certainly someone who saw that act of depravity must have had a shred of empathy. Perhaps if some alternative to dialing 911 existed this atrocity could have been cut short. Yes, I know, just the thought of someone being intimidated from calling 911 in a real emergency like this is sad; but that's what is out there.
There is much work to be done. I suspect a significant part of this issue involves the dearth of moral emotions in so many young people. Could it be possible that the line between reality and fantasy has become so dulled, so faded, so invisible that we have a much deeper problem here than we think?
I'm also wondering how often a crime like the gang-rape detailed here occurs. I suspect that it may not be as isolated or rare an occurrence as we think. Perhaps the number of onlookers or participators involved might be smaller, but the type of crime is probably much more common than we know. Can you see the curriculum possibilities here? Again, the political will to educate our young people in a way that matters is what's needed as much as any security camera or beefed up police force.