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West Virginia Students “Say Something,” Preventing A School Shooting

Image of Jackson County School bus on the news. "attempted school shooting stopped in its tracks" on screen.

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When a West Virginia middle school student saw a classmate who had a gun in his backpack while riding the bus to school, he knew exactly what to do.

Having been trained in the Say Something program, the student knew he had to act immediately and tell a trusted adult. The student told the bus driver, while other classmates began texting parents and educators about their concerns.

Not only did authorities find the gun and ammunition, but the student admitted he was planning to kill someone at school later that day. Educators and law enforcement officials had no doubt that at least one life was saved that day because of the youth’s actions.

If it wasn’t for those students speaking up, the day could have ended a lot differently. I believe that Say Something was an important ingredient in the students deciding to take action. The program allowed our students and staff to safely navigate the situation.

Blaine Hess, Jackson County Schools Superintendent

Training and Resources

Chapman said it can often be difficult for students to know what to do when confronted with such a stressful situation. But having the training gave them the tools they needed to take the appropriate actions.

“Students who’ve received the Say Something training are in a much better position to know what they need to do when responding to a crisis,” he said.

Hess said he has seen many programs come and go during his career. He shared that it’s the SAVE Promise Clubs that empowers students and allows the program to grow year after year.

“The Clubs help to emphasize tenants of the program long after the training is over,” he said. “It reinforces that they have to be aware of their surroundings and allows them to be part of the solution.”

William Chapman, the district’s director for federal programs and child nutrition, said educators have also embraced the program. They see how effective it is, and because of the wealth of resources available through the online Learning Center.

“It gives the educators additional activities and other resources so we can continue the training throughout the year,” he said.

Program Effectiveness

The district first implemented the Say Something program about three years ago. They leveraged a federal STOP School Violence Act grant after there had been several suicides in previous years.

“Just one student taking their own life is too much,” Chapman said. “Since launching the program, we’ve had several incidents where students saw something a friend posted on social media and reached out to express their concerns.”

According to our Crisis Center, at least 60 acts of violence involving a weapon were prevented through the program. That’s because students trained in the Say Something program reached out for help. Since the program launched, eight planned school shootings that have been prevented. An additional 296 confirmed lives have been saved through crisis interventions.

Take Action

Learn more about the warning signs that can precede violence and how to bring the Say Something program to your district today.