2/13/2010

Pastor Missed Signs of School Shooter Instability

If you live in Knoxville you know about the recent schooling at Inskip Elementary school. This time the alleged shooter wasn't a student. It was a teacher. Accused of injuring the school principal and assistant principal is 4th grade teacher Mark Foster.

Since the incident several people have come forward saying they are not surprised by the incident. Indeed there were warning signs that Foster is a troubled individual. According to WATE, he was known to the Anderson County Sherrif's Dept. His sister-in-law, former friend, and brother have all spoken out. These news reports indicate problems with stalking, family violence and other disturbing behavior.

Today, his pastor speaks out with a different view. He says he never saw signs of impending trouble. Does this indicate that the pastor doesn't care for his flock? No. Can troubled people manage their own behavior over several years without giving indication to anyone? Maybe.

The more likely scenario is that the pastor vever received training to help him recognize warning signs. I often see this in cases of domestic violence. Pastors want to help. They do their best but without the right background they miss the signs and are less effective than they want to be. This leaves compassionate and caring pastors shaking their heads while wondering what they did wrong.

Fortunately, we can help. Hope for Healing.Org offers training that help explain the cycle of domestic violence, talk about some of the associated warning signs and help pastors learn how to create a safety plan for victims.

Has your pastor received training in how to respond to family or domestic violence? Ask. If the answer is no then share this link with your pastor. It offers free resources that can help. http://www.hopeforhealing.org/clergy.


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