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Someone at School Has a Weapon. What Should I Do?

Why do students bring guns, knives, or other weapons to school? Some are just showing off, others feel that they need a weapon to protect themselves, and some are actively looking to threaten or harm others. Whatever the reason, though, no one should be bringing a weapon to school.

If you suspect that someone has a weapon or is threatening someone else's life, the best thing to do is to speak up. But how can you do that? If you find out that someone at school has a weapon, here are some tips for handling the situation.

Seek safety. If you see someone with a weapon, walk the other way. Remove yourself from the situation as quickly and quietly as possible.

Report the situation. Notify an adult you trust immediately. Find someone you can talk to, such as a school counselor, principal, teacher, coach, or parent. These people should know how to handle the situation appropriately, and they can keep your name confidential. Tell them exactly what you saw, what type of weapon it was (a knife, a gun, etc.), where the incident happened, and who was involved. Tell them about the situation — such as whether the weapon was being shown off or used to threaten another student.

If you don't trust an adult or can't find someone you believe will protect your identity, make an anonymous phone call to your school office and report the incident. You can also call 911 and ask them to keep your identity confidential.

Write it down. Keep a written record of everything you can remember about the incident, including the people involved, the type of weapon, the date and time it happened, and where it happened. You should also record whether the incident was reported and, if so, to whom. Writing this information down while it's still fresh in your mind will help you remember details if you're asked about it later.

The Warning Signs of Violence

Violence can happen even when a kid doesn't have a weapon. It's important to remember that violence comes in many different forms. It can be physical, like pushing, punching, or fighting with someone. Violence can also be psychological and may include name-calling, harassment, taunting, and other forms of bullying. People who are more likely to become violent may show some of these warning signs:

  • cruelty to pets and other animals
  • talking about weapons and violence
  • fascination with violent video games, television, and movies
  • threatening or bullying others
  • isolation from family and friends

Of course, these signs don't necessarily mean that a person will become violent or bring a weapon to school. Still, you should take all signs and threats seriously, and share your concerns with a responsible adult early on. Speaking up about violence and weapons in school not only protects you, but your friends and classmates, too.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2013