James’s Musings

thoughts, photography, and geeky stuff
from an unrelentingly curious Silicon Valley entrepreneur

Speaking Up Works! [Fourth in a Series on Gun Violence]

by James G. Beldock on May 7, 2008

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.

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