NEW JERSEY (FOX5NY.COM) - Some New Jersey educators became students at a workshop Tuesday morning. The topic: helping prevent school shootings.
"For some reason, [Parkland] is the tragedy that tipped the balance, that has really awakened people," said Beth Moroney of the Edison Board of Education. "You would have thought it was Sandy Hook five years ago or Columbine."
Ian Hockley introduced his program called Wingman, which many school curriculums are adopting. The concept of Wingman is promoting stronger integration among students thereby reducing feeling ostracized, a common factor in perpetrators of school violence. Parkland shooting suspect Nicholas Cruz is the most recent example.
"When people are isolated, that lack of integration—that can lead them to dark places," Hockley said. "But when you have a community of people with the empathy just to look out for each other so they know they have someone to turn to."
The subject hits quite close to home for Hockley. his Dylan, 5, was one of the 20 children and six faculty members killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut in December 2012. Quite understandably, Hockley admits the mass shootings that have happened since slow the healing process.
"I see the tragedy, I see the looks on their faces and know that was us in Newtown," Hockley said. "I block off the pain and shut it out and try to carry on."
The Educational Services Commission of New Jersey hosted the wingman presentation, which also empowers students to notify parents and law enforcement if they suspect someone is planning a violent act.
More educators across the country are now having to tread this territory.
"We can be reactive and when you're reactive, at times, you make decisions that have long-term consequences," said Dr. Susan Genco, the superintendent of Cranbury School District. "And so if you're looking at proactive strategies that we use in education already and we building on those strategies… and maintain a healthy environment for everyone."