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27 October 2003

Listening, rather than profiling

During his DIDW talk on identity crime, Bob Bond mentioned two US Secret Service profiling projects. One tried to profile students who attack teachers and schools; another people who target celebrities. Both found that there is no set profile but certainly lots of indicators that weren't treated as warning signs.

The study found that school shootings are rarely impulsive acts. Rather, they are typically thought out and planned out in advance. In addition, prior to most shootings other kids knew the shooting was to occur - but did not alert an adult. Very few of the attackers, however, ever directed threats to their targets before the attack. The study findings also revealed that there is no "profile" of a school shooter; instead, the students who carried out the attacks differed from one another in numerous ways. However, almost every attacker had engaged in behaviour before the shooting that seriously concerned at least one adult - and for many had concerned three or more different adults.

(From the Safe School Initiative)

Although there is no profile, the shooters were all boys and most had experienced bullying at school. William Pollack, a consultant psychologist to the Secret Service, has devised some tips for listening to boys, e.g.

  • Honour a boy's need for "timed silence," to choose when to talk
  • Find a safe place, a "shame-free zone"
  • Connect through activity or play. Many boys express their deepest experience through "action talk"
  • Avoid teasing and shaming
  • Make brief statements and wait; do not lecture

    This is useful reading for moderators of teen communities. How do you get kids and teens to report incidents or worries, when there is a great reluctance to talk...? This is an issue that came up frequently at the UK Home Office's conference on Child Protection on the Internet this year - and there are no obvious answers just yet.

    Posted at 05:49 PM | Permalink


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    » Incorporating listening into teen moderation... from Everything In Moderation
    Fiona Romeo has written an interesting piece on listening rather than profiling teen males and suggests that the same techniques might have utility for moderators of teen-centred communities. She cites William Pollack's "tips for listening to boys": Ho... [Read More]

    Tracked on 9 Nov 2003 16:36:15