THE FORGOTTEN PAIN
By Tom Wetzel
By Tom Wetzel
I recently met with Bobbie Parmertor, the father of Danny Parmertor, who was killed in the Chardon, Ohio high school shooting in February. Even with half a year gone by, his eyes betrayed a soul still torn with pain. A razor cut scar across his face would have been less noticeable.
Despite all they have gone through, Bobbie and his wife Dina are determined that no other parent ever has to experience the suffering they continue to undergo. They recognize that major changes need to take place to help prevent this growing problem. If not, more and more parents will continue to be victimized from solo mass murderers attacking children in schools.
The law enforcement profession has already begun changing its tactics in responding to active killer calls. In the 2006 Dawson College incident Montreal officers recognized that their response must be swift and aggressive. Where in the past officers were taught to wait and put together a team to aggress a shooter, many agencies now train their members to immediately enter a school, respond directly to the shooter and stop them quickly.
That can mean entering these combat zones alone if necessary but such is the lot these brave officers face. The faster they can engage these killers, even at great risk to their own lives, the less opportunity and time they have to spread carnage.
These tactics are important but what is especially needed is prevention. Because there are potential shooters in far too many schools, an awareness and educational approach which encourages legislative action is needed right now. It should involve a collaborative effort between police departments, prosecutors and schools.
We could start by producing a training DVD for every school and police department. It could open with the agganizing interview video of Bobbie and Dina Parmertor on CNN. Their pain screamed out from TV sets throughout the nation about the massive toll these shootings take on families.
The program would train teachers and police officers how to better recognize the warning signs of a troubled young person who might pose a danger to other students. Early intervention may redirect a child’s misguided energy toward a more constructive thought process.
School resource officers are another vital link. They often have their ear to the ground and can spot trouble in advance. With time many children come to view them as friends and confide about what’s going on.
If someone enters school hallways to harm and kill children, they will be met by an armed officer. There should be one in every school in the country and schools and police departments need to work together to secure funding to make this a reality.
Too many irresponsible gun owners fail to protect their weapons from theft or loss and they can end up in the hands of dangerous people who might be school shooters. Since legislators at the federal level want no part of this, an effort should be made to enact provincial or local ordinances that place a high cost on failing to protect a firearm. These types of laws don’t involve registration issues or any restriction on ownership. Instead they demand responsibility.
Besides legislative sanctions, our efforts should also encourage all levels of governments to develop radio, tv and online public service announcements which emphasize the importance of maintaining better control of firearms and encourage responsible gun ownership.
Bobbie and Dina deserve to know that an earnest effort is underway to find ways to prevent these tragedies. We as a society owe it to them and other parents who have lost their children to violence.
We must learn to recognize trouble in advance and stop it in its tracks.