Posted by: joshjasper | June 10, 2014

Keep Your Bullshit Ribbons

There have been 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook.  74.  That’s approximately 1.37 school shootings per week.


I don’t even want to get into why this type of violence is happening or the painfully obvious common denominators that exist that nearly no one wants to identify and discuss….EVER.  No, I’m frustrated for an entirely different reason.

My entire career has centered around some form of prevention.  Early on I was trying to prevent homelessness in Skid Row in Los Angeles, then it was ending risky behaviors for at risk teens, and then of course, violence prevention.

And when I look back on all those years, I failed.  Miserably.  We failed.  But we tried our best, right?

But now our best isn’t good enough.  Not even close.  1.37 school shootings per week?  40 square blocks of people living in the streets in downtown Los Angeles?  1 in 3 girls being sexually abused before they turn 18?

We are failing miserably.  Wake up!

Teaching women how not to get raped is NOT going to prevent sexual abuse.  Putting metal detectors in schools and arming the administrators is NOT going to create a safe school.  Going to a local homeless shelter and serving a meal once a month or donating some canned goods is NOT going to get people off the streets.

Do you honestly think for one moment that by wearing some ribbon during a particular month you are making even a dent in preventing anything?  Who are you really wearing that for?

You want to see an end to school shootings?  Then it’s time to go to work.  And don’t think that hiring me to come into your school or college once a year to talk to a few students is going to be the answer.  Because it’s not.  We need to think about this problem like we thought about eliminating smoking.  That was a multipronged approach that took vast resources.

Preventing a young, white man who is heavily armed from going into a school to kill his fellow classmates is going to take a great deal of work from EVERYONE in our communities.

Look at this image of the Spectrum of Prevention:


If you want to prevent anything, research has proven that this spectrum is what you need to follow.

You want to know why I failed in all my years of prevention?  I failed because I lived and breathed in the first 3 steps and occasionally wandered into the fourth step of fostering coalitions and networks.  And guess what, the most effective step is the last step of influencing policy and legislation…a step that we rarely ever experience in a meaningful way.

Think about where we are as a country when it comes to school shootings with step one of strengthening individual knowledge and skills.  We can’t even agree on who or what is the problem.  Is it the gun or is it the shooter?  Is it video games or Marilyn Manson?

We better start digging deep for real answers right now and stop fucking around.  This is serious and demands our attention.




  1. I’d challenge your assertion that you “failed,” Josh- you made differences in individual lives (and beyond) that none of us will probably ever get to appreciate. You did not eliminate the entire problem; none of has or will for a very long time, if ever. But you were a part of the solution.

  2. Amen, Josh! Keep up the battle, and count me in in battling with you!

  3. Love it. Love the title. “Awareness” of so many things people are already aware of is so overdone. Love the passion, nothing sends the message home like a well placed f-bomb. Although I would agree with Roger. Just because you haven’t succeeded yet doesn’t mean you failed. This blog is proof that you’re still working on it.

  4. Josh,

    Anger is good as it’s tied to conscience and tells you and me what’s wrong.

    Some anger, of course, is mistaken, misdirected and harmful but there’s that anger that is about

    standing up and not quitting. Keep up the good fight(St Paul)



    Original E-mail

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