In aftermath of Newtown shootings, a call for 'meaningful action'

December 21, 2012 by Charles Anzalone

The director of the University at Buffalo's Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention is among nine school violence prevention researchers and practitioners in the country who on Dec. 19 released a detailed position statement in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

"The Newtown tragedy is incredibly shocking and saddening," said Amanda B. Nickerson, PhD, director of UB's Alberti Center and associate professor in the Department of Counseling, School and Educational Psychology in UB's Graduate School of Education.

"Uniting with other scholars who study the issues of violence prevention and school safety provided an important opportunity to come to a balanced consensus about the most critical issues that we must face in order to achieve meaningful action in light of this tragedy."

Nickerson was one of the nine co-authors from universities throughout the nation who drafted the statement and who are acting as contacts and spokespeople for the larger group they represent.

The position statement, released through an organization called the Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence, was endorsed by more than 100 professional organizations representing over 4 million professionals from groups such as the American Federation of Teachers, multiple divisions of the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League of America and other education and mental health associations.

The complete position paper and a list of endorsing organizations is available at

The statement also earned the endorsement of more than 100 nationally recognized researchers and practitioners, including deans of prominent university colleges of education and social work.

The driving force behind the statement was to communicate scientifically informed principles and recommendations for practitioners, policymakers and the public at large. The co-authors hope the statement will "build consensus on a course of meaningful action."

"We all share a common priority: Keeping our children safe," the researchers and practitioners state. "We need to come together in our communities to share our grief and talk about how we can move forward in light of this tragic event.

"While schools are of paramount concern, the location of a shooting is not its most important feature, although it is the most visible," the document stated. "From the standpoint of prevention, what matters more is the motivation behind a shooting. It is too soon to draw conclusions about this case, but in every mass shooting we must consider two keys to prevention: (1) the presence of severe mental illness and/or (2) an intense interpersonal conflict that the person could not resolve or tolerate."

The group also urged caution about intensifying security within schools.

"We cannot and should not turn our schools into fortresses.  Effective prevention cannot wait until there is a gunman in a school parking lot. We need resources such as mental health supports and threat assessment teams in every and community so that people can seek assistance when they recognize that someone is troubled and requires help."

Explore further: Gaga's anti-bullying stance can help, says expert

Related Stories

Gaga's anti-bullying stance can help, says expert

September 26, 2011

Lady Gaga and other celebrities commenting on bullying have the chance to teach young people about the horrors of bullying abuse, says the director of the University at Buffalo's Alberti Center for the Prevention of Bullying ...

Recommended for you

Chimpanzees shed light on origins of human walking

October 6, 2015

A research team led by Stony Brook University investigating human and chimpanzee locomotion have uncovered unexpected similarities in the way the two species use their upper body during two-legged walking. The results, reported ...

How much for that Nobel prize in the window?

October 3, 2015

No need to make peace in the Middle East, resolve one of science's great mysteries or pen a masterpiece: the easiest way to get yourself a Nobel prize may be to buy one.

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2012
Be careful for what one wishes, you may get it good and hard, as unintended consequences of interventionist iatrogenics. Read Taleb.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2012
"Meaningful action" would be to stop poisoning the minds of children and adults alike.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.