Local Expert Calls For New Standards After Ohio School Shooting

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – Investigators in Chardon, Ohio are still piecing together the events leading up to a shooting at Chardon High School this morning. A student at the suburban Cleveland school apparently walked into the cafeteria there and began shooting at classmates, killing two and injuring at least three more. He was arrested a short time later.

CBS News has reported that the shooter may have told some of his classmates about his plans a day or two ago, but those students apparently did nothing to stop him.

That’s distressing to Laura McNeal, a Faculty Fellow at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute at Harvard Law School. One of her areas of expertise is school safety and incidents just like this one. She says all too often, others in the school see warning signs but don’t know what to do.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

“Until we can create a school culture and climate where kids are comfortable coming to adults I think unfortunately we’re not going to solve this issue,” McNeal says.

McNeal and her colleagues are working on a framework that could help students, teachers, school resource officers, and administrators figure out a way to intervene when they think something is wrong.

“As we typically hear after these types tragic events, you always hear there are warning signs,” she says. Often, people will later report that, “the child was acting erratically, or [was] depressed.”

In such cases, she says, if people knew what to do and where to go, it’s possible the problem would never rise to the level of a shooting. McNeal thinks that new standards could be instituted at the national level and eventually filter down to individual districts – and then school-by-school – meeting the specific needs of each circumstance.

“We’re not powerless,” she says. “Again, the key is preventative, preventative, preventative — recognizing the early warning signs and taking action.”

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