In a recent post, I wrote about Speak Up!, an innovative program created by PAX USA, which helps communities create and operate a hotline for students to report potential gun violence and then aids those communities in building awareness of the critical role of peers in notifying authorities of potential violent threats. If ever there was any doubt that the work of organizations such as Speak Up! can save lives, this morning’s news eliminated it: today, police arrested Kevin Boyar, a student at the University of New Mexico for possessing weapons on campus. Boyar had made references to last year’s tragic Virginia Tech shootings (and his ability to surpass their damage).
The critical development: whatever might have happened was averted because somebody tipped off police. Of course, it’s often difficult to prove a negative (but not impossible!). Nevertheless, the facts so far made public in this case are compelling enough for me to draw the conclusion that the arrest averted a potential tragedy.
Media Credit: Vanessa Sanchez / Daily Lobo
For every community which organizations like Speak Up! serve there are numerous others in which the threat of student gun violence remains unaddressed. But the promise is tremendous: in 80% of all school violence, someone other than the perpetrators knew about it in advance. Therein lies the opportunity: to save lives by notifying authorities before it’s too late. This time, it worked.