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MSDHS Public School Safety Act, 
Will It Prevent the Next School Shooting?

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Massacre (Parkland Shooting) is a prime example demonstrating that existing systems and programs do not work! 

What is the question that every parent and grandparent of school aged children are asking of the State of Florida's Secondary School System, "Will the new MSDH Public School Safety Act prevent the Next School Shooting?" 

As parents, or grandparents, what can we do to keep our children or grandchildren safe in our Florida's Secondary Schools? Following the horrific school shooting at Parkland, our Florida Legislators passed the "School Public Safety Act" CS/SB 7026. Does this legislation prevent the next school shooting? Sadly, the answer is “no!” I believe the most Floridians intuitively know this! Let’s examine the Act:

There are four key parts to this Act:

Part One: The Guardian Program, which permits selected individuals, with extensive training or credentials to conceal carry in school to respond to a school shooter. This is being rejected outright by most school districts. Local Law Enforcement does not want a repeat of what happened in Central Florida in 2005. As an off-duty UCF campus police officer drew his weapon on under-age students drinking before a UCF game; an Orlando reserve uniformed police arrived and shot dead the UCF campus police officer.

Part Two: Hardening schools like penitentiaries is extraordinarily expensive and, like at Parkland, these investments can easily be thwarted when students (Shooter or Coconspirator) simply pull the fire alarm, and all entrances and exits must open immediately exposing the campus and students.

Parts Three: These are funding provisions for more School Resource Officers (SROs), which may seem like a good idea until you ask yourself: Do we want to reliably prevent, or simply react faster, to the next school shooting? From the Moment of Commitment (when an assailant decides to pull his weapon and start shooting) to when the first round is discharged is just 2 seconds. The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) agrees that no SRO can reliably be on scene and prevent those initial deaths from occurring.

Part Four: These are funding provisions for more Mental Health Assessments, which may also seem like a good idea until you ask yourself: How reliable are Mental Health Assessment? The "Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy, June 13, 2007"
states “Most people who are violent do not have a mental illness, and most people who have mental illness are not violent.” Virginia Tech's active shooter (Seung-Hui Cho) murdered 33 innocent students and teachers, wounded 23 others, and then he took his own life. He was mental health assessed on three different occasions, and in each and every occasion, he was deemed to be "not at risk of hurting himself or others." The Parkland Shooter was also mental health assessed by Florida Department of Children and Families (FDCF) and deemed to be "not at risk of hurting himself or others."

Pima Community College’s Jared Lee Loughner, was charged with 19 counts of murder and attempted murder and shot Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords, near Tucson, Arizona, on January 8, 2011. Loughner clearly had a Thought Disorder and was probably Schizophrenic, one of the scariest of mental illnesses. However, we know that of all Schizophrenics only 0.002% (2/10 of one percent) have murdered another person. How do we get from the 0.002% of Schizophrenics who would murder people, to “this is your next shooter”? You can’t!

Added to which, federal regulations too often forbid the sharing of mental health assessments or any assessments that include culture, gender, education and so much more. How can a school district to get out in front of the next shooting when incumbered by these regulations? ·

Finally, current methods used are far too subjective, words like "scary, strange, weird, and menacing" can quickly overwhelm School Safety Specialists who have been charged with protecting students. These subjective references can take School Safety Specialists down the rabbit hole of "He said, she said," which can also lead to stereotyping and lawsuits.

The Result: too often mental health assessments will fail us, which then requires SROs to arrive on scene of an active shooting, stepping over those slain during those horrific first few seconds. Is this acceptable?

As a parent and now grandparent of children who have gone through, or are now going through, Florida's Secondary School System, I am taking a stand. I want to prevent the next school shooting! As parents or grandparents of children in our schools, what are you going to do about this?  In order to achieve this objective with significant and measurable results, any solution must be tested, evidence-based and should be scientifically validated. The Center for Aggression Management’s Critical Aggression Prevention System achieves all of these solution attributes.

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Orlando, FL – John D. Byrnes, D.Hum, Founder and CEO of Center for Aggression Management proposes the most effective way to prevent incidents such as the Parkland shooting is not gun control or mental health profiling, but rather school boards like Parkland’s making an immediate commitment to creating a common language and process for threat detection and prevention.

In an article describing why mental health assessments are not reliable predictors of potential shooters, Dr. Byrnes references the Report to the President on Issues Raised by the Virginia Tech Tragedy. It was noted that most people who are violent do not have a mental illness, but those that are mentally ill are more typically victims of this behavior. Byrnes believes that the dialogue surrounding the Parkland shooting will be most effective when it shifts from mental health assessments or gun control as the solution, to more scientifically-validated and empirical solutions such as threat/aggression management and the creation of a common language and process for detecting and preventing this behavior.

In a study conducted as a collaboration between the US Secret Service, Dept of Education and the National Institute of Justice called the “Safe School Initiative Study”, it was found that the only “reliable” way to identify a future shooter was to identify someone “on the path to violence.” By implementing a process like the Critical Aggression Prevention System (CAPS), a common language and thorough process for assessing a potential threat and reaching someone trained to handle this threat are created. CAPS’s most important contribution is that it determines a person Stage (Level) of Aggression and thus the presumption of threat (Low, Moderate, High Threat Levels), which creates the sense of urgency that was missing from the 45 times that Nikolas Cruz was reported.

While many schools, college campuses, and workplaces have their own Behavior Intervention services in place, many of these programs operate based off of vague reports of “weird” or “menacing” behavior. This completely subjective language fails to effectively target the source of the problem. Byrnes believes that people need to be trained to effectively evaluate communication, body language and behavior in order to encourage a potential aggressor to seek help, or de-escalate the issue themselves.

To publish Byrnes’ article or schedule an interview with Byrnes please call Sarah Bishop with Crank Communications at 407-830-7312 (office) or 631-875-3712 (cell) or e-mail To learn more visit

About John D. Byrnes, D.Hum.

John D. Byrnes, D.Hum. is an author, lecturer, veteran (USS Nautilus 571) and founder of the Center for Aggression Management. Byrnes regularly speaks on Behavior Intervention at engagements such as being selected by the US Department of Labor to represent the United States at the Violence as a Workplace Risk Conference in Montreal, Canada. Byrnes was Keynote Speaker at the US Army's Special Operations Command, Terrorism Division at their Conference on Preventing Insider Threats, as well as, the first Protective Security Conference (ProSecCon). Byrnes authored the NaBITA Threat Assessment Tool, which is now being used by Behavior Intervention Teams in over 177 college and university campuses as well as developed the Critical Aggression Prevention System (CAPS). Byrnes has been interviewed as an expert by major news outlets such as FOX35, WESH, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more.

About Center for Aggression Management

The Center for Aggression Management was founded by John D. Byrnes in 1993 to provide organizations with Aggression Management skills through training. The Center for Aggression Management developed the Primal and Cognitive Aggression Continua. All of the body language, behavior and communication indicators offer a reliable and definable method of assessing “aggressive behavior”. This identifies and ranks the precursors to bullying, harassment, abuse and violence in order to provide the opportunity to prevent such incidents. The center uses a mobile-based software product called the Meter of Emerging Aggression (MEA). Because the MEA uses no mental health, culture, gender, education, age, or sexual orientation in its aggression assessment, it does not conflict with HIPAA or Privacy regulations.