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Berks

Expert on school shootings gives talk at Conrad Weiser

'Be informed, not afraid'

HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. - More than 100 people turned out at Conrad Weiser Middle School in Heidelberg Township on Thursday for a presentation on school safety, given by Peter Langman, a school safety expert specializing in school shootings.

The audience, made up of community members and district employees, came for the presentation, titled, "Be Informed, Not Afraid."

Ryan Giffing, Conrad Weiser's assistant superintendent, opened the evening by informing the audience about the measures the district takes to prepare and to ensure student safety, including a brief review of the "All Hazards Plan," and details about monthly meetings with police and monthly safety drills for students.

He also emphasized the importance of the relationship the district has cultivated with local and state police, the Department of Homeland Security, Caron Foundation and Big Brother, Big Sisters of Berks County.

Langman, a practicing psychologist, is the author of two books on the topic: "School Shooters: Understanding High School, College, and Adult Perpetrators," and "Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters."

His opinions and trainings have been highly sought after, and his recommendations were presented to President Barack Obama after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

In profiling school shooters, Langman said, "it was not how similar they were, but how different they were."

He categorizes school shooters into three types: psychopathic, psychotic and traumatized. He emphasized that these are not just kids who played too many video games or watched too many violent movies, but rather a "combination of who they are to begin with and what happens to them" along the way.

Aside from the information provided, Langman's presentation has two main points.

First: On the whole, school is one of the safest places children can be. While we may be oversaturated with news of shootings, the reality is that about 0.1 percent of homicides in America occur in schools

"You are nearly 10 times more likely to be hit by lightning than to die in a school shooting," he said.

Second: Langman emphasized to the teachers in the room the importance of speaking up if they suspect something, even if that hunch turns out to be incorrect. Saying that "anyone can prevent an attack," he provided examples where shooting events were thwarted due to someone speaking up, and examples where they were not.

Langman referenced his website — schoolshooters.info — as the best resource for information on school shooters, with over 60,000 pages of resources.


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