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U-M expert: Preventing a school shooting | 'Secure firearms in home, help students and staff recognize distress signs'

The first step to reducing mass shootings and school shootings is prevention.

MICHIGAN, USA — The question that comes up every time there's a school shooting: How do we stop this from happening again? 

Patrick Carter with the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention at the University of Michigan said the first step to reducing mass shootings and school shootings is prevention. 

A common sense thing people can do is safely secure their firearms.

"Because the gun could perpetrate a school shooting but also because troubled teens who are depressed might be at risk for self-inflicting or harmful injury or retaliating against somebody who perpetuated violence against them in the past," Carter said. 

According to the institute's research, around half of school shootings are carried out by current or past students. In around 74% of incidents, the firearm used was obtained from the student’s home or from that of a friend or relative.

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According to Carter, more research needs to be done about risk factors for school shooters in general. However, kids exposed to high levels of violence are at risk for future violence and mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety and depression. 

"Really helping kids deal with their traumatic exposures is a key fundamental in terms of primary prevention," he said. 

Carter adds we also need to provide students with skills to resolve conflicts in non-violent ways and help them recognize when other students are in distress so they can notify the necessary adults who can intervene ahead of time.

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"Kids are able to recognize when somebody is more stressed or engaged in patterns of behavior that are negative," Carter said. "There's research underway right now to look at how students can anonymously report those types of things to staff so they're not tagged with being somebody who's tattle-taling on another student."

It's still yet to be seen whether this research can be a positive force for prevention when it comes to these types of events. 

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