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Slashdot Meets The Pinkerton Corp. 596

Posted by JonKatz
from the somebody-is-listening-out-there dept.
The chairman of the Pinkerton Corp. has agreed to meet with me Wednesday about the more than 1,000 objections posted last week on Slashdot to the company's WAVE America so-called school-safety program. The program, kicking off in North Carolina, offers schoolkids cash, caps and other incentives to turn in "depressed and dangerous" classmates to an anonymous toll-free number. Pinkerton brass say they have read each of the Slashdot comments and want to talk. (Read more about the meeting, and post any questions you have for Pinkerton here.)

The Chairman and lead Web developer of the Pinkerton Corporation have agreed to my request to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday and talk with company officials face-to-face abaout the objections many Slashdot readers have to the company's new "WAVE America" program.

WAVE America is a private, for-profit school-safety program gearing up in North Carolina -- with the enthusiastic support of the governor -- and going nationwide. It offers incentives (caps, T-shirts, cash) to students who call a toll-free number and anonymously turn in classmates they believe to be depressed or dangerous.

A company executive tells me that Pinkerton brass have already read all of the more than 1,000 posts about the program posted on Slashdot last week, and are considering some changes in WAVE America, including the cash and goodies. The company says it is also already revamping its vague criteria for identifying disturbed or dangerous kids, using specific symptoms recommended by psychiatric organizations.

I told the company official who called me that frankly, I hoped to convince Pinkerton to scrap this anonymous call-in program entirely. This kind of Draconian response to Columbine is unjustified, given that violence among children has been declining for years and that the horrific massacres are as random as they are rare. This kind of anonymous reporting encourages schookids to make judgments that therapists and counselors ought to be making, and could easily target the weird, geeky, unhappy and non-normal as well as the dangerous. It suggests the worst kind of Geek Profiling, in the process wantonly violating constitutional protections against unwarranted intrusions, search and seizure.

But I was surprised by the company's willingness to meet with me. I've been writing about variations on this issue for years. Large corporations are rarely -- in fact, never -- this responsive. Pinkerton executives said they were reading through all of the Slashdot posts, finding some of them compelling and convincing.

If Pinkerton eventually alters this program, it would mark a significant step in the use of the Net to provide individuals -- especially the young, who are historically voiceless in media as well as corporations -- with direct access to powerful entities that often aren't paying attention to anything but stock prices.

My expectations aren't high, but I said I valued a conversation over a confrontation and would keep an open mind if Pinkerton would. I also asked if I could post a message asking Slashdot readers whether they had specific questions about WAVE America -- one of a number of "school-safety" programs launched in the wake of the Columbine killings last year. So if you have any questions or opinions you'd like me to relay to the Pinkerton people I'll be meeting with, please post them here. They can read them directly on the site, or I can relay them. I'll report back on the meeting in a few days.

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Slashdot Meets The Pinkerton Corp.

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  • Warning: Bitter ranting

    Ok, adios +2 bonus, so let's see if this gets read.. Be forewarned: I'm not from the USA, in Canada, we have the Kid's Help Phone, it's free, and it helps kids, not helps feed the world's largest prison (criminal education) system.

    I was definately a oddball in school, and most certainly would have been targetted by my peers under this program. Nevermind that they get the slap on the wrists for what would amount to an assault conviction in the real world (several of those people are in the slammer now). He's smart and we've cast him out - oh oh. He might be planning some horrible revenege! Lock him up! What the hell is wrong with you people in the USA?.

    As one poster pointed out, I had some real good revenege tactics worked out in minute detail. But I didn't do it. Why? Because I knew it got better. I knew my life would be successful, and those idiots were headed for a horrible existance. Do I sound arrogant? Bitter? Damn straight I am. Those bastards can rot on the street. I'm upset enough my tax dollars go to clothe them in prison. But that's a side issue. Outside of the hellish environment of school, talent is rewarded, not punished.

    Let's say I get thrown in one of those detention facilities because I'm a danger to my peers. Now, I'm smart - I know that my chances of a first-grade university education are finished, and I'm unlikely to get a good job. NOW, I'm pissed off. You want a good high school massacre? Wait until some disgruntled youth spends a year or two getting "Reeducated", plotting proper weapons tactics and bomb placements, learning how to make chlorine gas, learning how to properly fuse ordinance. Columbine could have been a thousand times worse if not for lady luck.

    So, rather than push people on the brink over the edge, why not HELP. I'm ALL FOR the Wave program! That is, provided it targets the people that are the real problem - the people physically abusing those weaker than them in a feeble attempt to impress their peers. Throw the book at THOSE people. They're the goddamn freaks, not Johnny Trenchcoat who just wants to hack code and play AD&D, or quake, or whatever.

    Rant off. I just hope some schools think about WHY they get unstable maniacs. hint: It's not because geeks are outcast. It's 3-15 years of institutionalized abuse and torture. Add someone who IS unstable, has a bad home life, and bad shit is going to happen.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    So if the system is anonymous, how do the kids collect the cash? I'd be turning in my classmates for every comment they make for $20/pop if I can do it anonymously! In fact, you might want to offer Direct Deposit services. ;-)

    In this system, will the quantity of "tips" on a person alone be grounds for their "review"?

    I'm concerned about the ability to review any such "turn in poach...er...weirdos" system (be it private or public sponsered) because the subjects are minors. Funny how a program which is designed to violate a minors rights might be protected from review by simply stating "they can't release any information because the information deals with minors".

    If the company is still developing this program as I write this post, then it obviously will have to go through refinement after it is implemented. Yea, yea, hire a few professional shrinks, but what about public input/review? I'm assumming this program may be implemented in Public Schools, and as such (and as a parent) I'd be interested in reviewing how they profile my children.

    What kind of "local community standards" will be applied to determine the legitimancy of threats? What is the norm for uber-urban schools would rank as "DANGER!" for rural schools. (...or "# insmod catholic_school_module".)

    Would "profiling" of suspects be included? Heck, it would save a lot of time on each call if you just had a profile of each and every student. That way the weekly call about "GeekyBoy plays quake at home!" could be conviently ignored or added to a "history of consistent suspicious behavior".

    Can we "pre-load" profiles for each student while we are at it? Computer-lovers get the "geek" standard profile, Sports-lovers get "Jock", darksiders get "put_in_jail_right_now" profile. Again, a simplification of what people's preceptions of who the students are will surely lead to a quicker identification of potentially dangerous humans.

    Speaking of profiling...why not keep track of family structure (divorced families have more stress -- mark one against them), current social status (BoyBeta just broke up with GirlTheta -- additional stress imposed, thus mark this one with a "suspect" indicator), GPA (after all, GPA is the one number that tells us EVERYTHING about this student, right?), involvement in religous activities (church or cult?), fashion (he wore a TRENCHCOAT today?!?), racial identifier (insert sterotype of various races here), and involvement in other activities (gangs, after school sports).

    At what point are the police/FBI/ATF/CIA involved? Reported threats to blow things up or start fires are serious offenses -- when do the big guns get involved and who notifies them? ..and tell me once again WHEN are the parents notified?

    What kind of parental involvement is currently planned in this program? Am I, as a parent, only notified if my kid is a "danger" or only after he is arrested for being a suspect? Can I, as a parent, be allowed to explain away some behaviorial quirk (fear of open places or perhaps fear of a color)? How secondary am I to the process of protecting "everyone's children"? Do I get a "behavioral profile report card" at the end of each quarter/trimester/semester just like my kid's grades?

    Again, I have concerns about being able to review a process which I initially view as being biased to a lifesytle which I lead when I was in H.S.

    -Anonymous, yes, Coward, no -- just too lazy to sign up for an ID.
  • I'd like to turn myself in. I don't think I'm a danger to anyone, but there was this one time in high school where me and some friends took all the chairs from the cafeteria and hid them backstage in the auditorium so everyone had to eat lunch standing up, and we laughed, but I realize now it was WRONG! *sob* I WAS BAD!!! It was years ago but still, damn I SHOULDV'E BEEN A JOCK!!! I'M SORRY!!!

    Can I have a t-shirt now? Large please...

  • More disturbing was "Conveys violence in writings and/or drawings." Lot of room there.

    Ack. Glad I'm out of high school now. I used to draw guns and battle scenes all the time. Mostly comic book style stuff, but I wasn't much of an artist. Seems like drawing a picture of a gun would likely get me expelled these days, and I'm most definitely not a violent person.

  • Great. How many innocent people have been executed? They just executed a lady here in Texas even after her lawyer was convicted for intentionally losing cases for money. Maybe she was guilty. Maybe she wasn't. The point is, we don't know for sure. The legal system is very imperfect. There are a bunch of ways to get convicted of something you didn't do. They actually accept the testimony of a convicted felon that was given in return for a reduction of sentence. Bought and paid for. And we're supposed to rely on this system to determine whether I should be allowed to live just because I get convicted of something? Screw that. At least someone in prison can be released (and compensated as much as we are able to offer) if we later realize they weren't guilty. Can't do that after you've fried 'em.

  • I'm reminded of Homer "Thompson" wearing his flashy "WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM" shirt and matching cap.
  • For the moment I'll ignore the problems with providing incentives and possible false positives, as one of the things I didn't see addressed was notification of the parents of a potential "problem" student. Everything documented seemed geared towards notifying the school (and, more generally, protecting the school rather than helping the problem students, but that's another story).

    If there is a sensitive issue that needs to be taken care of, it needs to be treated as gently as possible, and I would think that going through the parents first would allow for the least harmful and intrusive way of dealing with the situation. Certainly there would be situations where the parents would be ineffective or unwilling to cooperate for various reasons ("My child is perfectly normal", etc.), but by going through the school, you force that situation to be handled in the primary public social forum that the child is a part of.

    While one could argue that the school's first course of action should be contacting the parents, that really begs the question "Why the hell do we need WAVE America in the first place?" There's no aspect of this that requires coordination on anything but a school by school basis. Why can't the school simply have a box for anonymous reports? Sure, WAVE America does some pre-processing and gets specific information, but when it all comes down to it, WAVE America still relies on the school to take those reports and act on them appropriately.

    I'm sure that Pinkerton has good intentions (protection of students) in mind, but I really fail to see how this program could in any way be construed as a good idea.
    --
    Kevin Doherty
    kdoherty+slashdot@jurai.net
  • As the parent of a very intelligent but socially standoffish child, i'm MUCH more worried about my child being falsely profiled as a danger to others.

    Basic risk analysis tells us that we'll never know if such a program ever prevents a disaster. But i'd be opposed anyway, just as i'm opposed to imprisoning people because they might someday mug me. When the child acts in a dangerous manner, then by all means take action. But don't take action because the child MIGHT do something dangerous.
    __
    (oO)
    /||\
  • You claim that your findings on "early warning" and "imminent danger" signs come from exhaustive research. This is impossible, seeing as their have not been enough major incidences of school violence, nor has enough time passed during this current "generation" of violence, for any research to take place that could possibly be called exhaustive.

    However, if you go back to the shooters themselves and analyze their motives, then with the exception of two (who were already known troublemakers) you will find many of the same things:
    • A peer environment which is outright abusive towards those who are different. The average intellectually-oriented student can expect to go through this type of abuse every day, some of which is of types that would land a parent in jail, or bring a dictator before a war tribunal for human rights abuses.
    • Administrations which simply look the other way from this abuse. Some actually encourage it, by way of, to give an all-too-commen example, sports coaches who manage to get star athletes leniency for the sake of something as trivial as a winning season.
    • Loss of school funding for programs which intellectially-oriented students benefit from, notably "gifted and talented" programs but also the arts.
    In short, these shooters are not born mad: they are driven to madness by ineffective school environments which encourage the abuse of the intellect.

    Given this, how do you justify creating a system which only allows intellectially-oriented students to be abused more than before (via the inevitable abuses of your system), rather than nipping the problem in the bud by attacking what drives these students mad? The latter, while more difficult, would certainly be far more effective. Once a person is traumatized, by peer abuse or by other means, that trauma can sometimes never be healed. But it could have been prevented. Clearly you have resources to at least lay the foundation for something like this. It isn't as easy as your current quick-fix, but it does work. You can take a sane person out of a madhouse, but the sane person remains sane, and the madhouse remains a madhouse. You haven't fixed the problem at all.
  • OK, here's my take on this thing: it's a popularity contest backed by the force of law. Here's my (admittedly stretched) line of reasoning:
    1. government = force (in the words of G. Wash.)
    2. public schools are run by the gov't
    3. NC's public schools will be directing at least a part of their disciplinary measures (ie: force) based on information from WAVE
    4. WAVE gets its information from students
    5. the "majority" students have every incentive to phone in reports on unpopular students, such as geeks, Goths, racial minorities, religious minorities, and other miscellaneous "undesirables"

    So if the NC schools take the information they get from WAVE seriously (whether out of genuine concern or knee-jerk publicism is irrelevant), there will be a popularity contest supported by the force of law. Don't like someone? Turn them in for... being different! Get your friends to turn them in too! How could WAVE ignore a dozen corroborating reports?

    It really reminds me of the French Revolution. Once the real revolutionaries had taken down the tyrants and beheaded them, they set up their own gov't. But woops! Turned out there were enough people who didn't like this new regime to get /them/ beheaded as well! This continued for so long, and so many heads rolled, that it's a wonder France survived it.

    As any student (prisoner) of our school system (jails for minors) could tell you, inter-clique rivalry, intra-clique rivalry, and rivalry between cliques and the clique-less ranks high among their foremost worries/concerns. It certainly is more important to most than.. gasp!.. learning. Even those who want nothing to do with it, as I didn't, have little choice in the matter. Even if one chooses to ignore it, the influence against them is still there. We should be discouraging this with all our persuasive might, not legitimizing it with rewards and incentives.

    Perhaps worst of all, I see no checks or balances on this system, other than the judgment of administrators, which anyone who's had any involvement with schools can agree is worthless. Who figures out what calls are legitimate, and which are pranks? Do WAVE and the NC schools go into this with the knowledge that upwards of 99% of the calls WILL BE PRANKS? I doubt it. The reactionist nature of post-Columbine "reform" does not doubt the legitimacy of its motives or goals. WAVE and the NC schools are going into this venture fully expecting to turn up hundreds of "depressed" and "dangerous" students, and if they don't find real ones, they'll make up enough to meet their expectations, never mind how many lives get ruined in the process, or how many of our sacred rights are trampled upon.

    On a related note...
    I remember hearing of a Supreme Court ruling handed down during the era of Vietnam protests. It concerned some students who wore black armbands to school in protest of the war, who were suspended. The ruling upheld the students' right to do this, saying somethine along the lines of "the students do not check their Constitutional rights at the door". I wonder how long it will take for this precedent to be eclipsed? For our post-Columbine reactionism to take the last vestiges of rights away from minors, to make them slaves to the first-class citizens of America, the "adults".

    I recall the events at my own high school (George Washington HS, Denver, CO) immediately following Columbine. Trench coats were banned. An assistant principle and the school police officer colluded to create a "black list" of potentially dangerous (or whatever) students. Wearing shirts of the bands that the killers identified with could get you on the list. Playing Quake could get you on it. Doing or saying any number of other things that someone associated with the killers could get you blacklisted. So I wore my KMFDM and Marilyn Manson shirts with pride. I played Quake, and talked about it. If I had owned a trench coat, I'd have worn it. I did my best to show everyone how ignorant they were. I even confronted the principal with the blacklist (about which he didn't even know). I learned a few things. Mainly, that many of the ignorant masses are just that, ignorant. And when confronted with the truth, will accept it. But we must lose no ground, concede no defeats. As Capt. Picard said in "First Contact", THE LINE MUST BE DRAWN HERE, THIS FAR AND NO FURTHER!!!

    MoNsTeR
  • Well as atheist and anti christian as I am, I did'nt think of that. That being said, that Wave things looks so surprisingly similar to the Sekuritat and Stasi (use of the phone, etc ...) that the parallel is more striking.
  • What if a racist antisemitic crack-dealing pimp saved your kid's life?
  • I too was one of the "geeks" in high school. It was bad enough knowing that my peers basically rejected me (one of the things most teenagers want is to fit in), but I had a certain amount of faith/hope that adults and society in general would treat me better. Being turned in and undergoing "evaluation" or "counseling" would simply have convinced me that society thought I was some sort of weird deviant, which I half-thought sometimes anyway. Knowing this would undoubtedly have pushed me over the edge. I doubt I'd have taken anyone other than myself out -- I've never been the violent type -- but I'm glad I'm around today, and I have friends and family who are glad I'm in their lives as well.

    I'm both saddened and scared that the response to tragedies like Columbine is to change school policies to treat "different" kids like dangerous freaks. It appears that somewhere along the line we stopped expecting parents to do the hard work of raising their children. That is, spending lots of time with them, showing them that they are valued and respected, teaching them what it means to have good character, helping them grow into mature adults. For some reason, that doesn't seem to be valued by society anymore. (At least, not in public.)

    Organizations like WAVE only make it easier for parents to let someone else do the work: "Well, if my kid has any real problems I'm sure the school will take care of it. He spends lots more time at school than home anyway, so they have a better chance than I do of seeing something. And the way things are at the office I just don't have a lot of time for anything."

    The real solution IMO is to change our (visible) societal values to encourage parents to Do The Right Thing. The question is... how?
  • Alittle OT, but surely you recognize that IQ is a highly subjective test that hardly even *begins* to explain intelligence other that visual/spatial abilities?

    As to being deviant.. they are mathematically correct... with an IQ of 160 you're, what, 5 standard deviations to the right..? Not that I'm complaining.. I've had similar problems... I can swallow entire books in a day.. my teacher refused to give me extra credit for reading long books after I read a 700 page report and gained so much in extra credit that my book report simply read: "Read the book. Interesting, I'd recommend it. It's 700+ pages long. Now give me an A." In 6th grade, it's apparently not expected people will read more than 250... :)

    Anyway... as to "cream of society".. keep in mind that society in general wants cute but dumb girls and hunky CEOs for guys ala hollywood style. The idea of some frazzled engineer building satellites somehow doesn't strike them as the creme de creme of their world.

    Just giving you a much needed reality-check and ego deflation. That'll be $6.50 plus tip. ;)

  • The AC that flamed you is a good example of why it hurts to be a student.

    Part of my high school "career" dealt specifically with overcoming people like that - they have nothing constructive to say. Anyway, I'm 20 now and I had to graduate with a GED - high school towards the end was going straight to hell... 2 arrests in as many weeks, public protests, leafleting of the building.. this was in a conservative town of 10k out in Wisconsin.. middle-class bible-loving people. They were outraged, indignant, some of THEM were violent. The police were of similar composition - they were tired of the whole debatacle.. they just wanted me to leave.

    Believe me... I have an intimate understanding of how and why these things happen. Most people thing that these kids just fall off the face of the earth after high school.. that they don't exist in the "Real World". We do. But we don't talk about those experiences.. while they taught us alot about how the world works and forever redefined the true definition of freedom (which is that true freedom can only exist in a place where it is safe to be unpopular) is also a chapter in our lives that we would rather leave closed. It's emotionally devastating.. and it is often linked to real physical ailments like depression and social anxiety. I couldn't.. and still can't.. deal with some of the things that happened to me. It's very embarassing being a male and having to ask for help about stuff like this... I find it as no suprise many people don't ask for help.. and die lonely and depressed.. it is truly the hardest battle of one's life.. and to go through it without even understanding why.. at that age.. my god..

    It's a truly sad state of affairs.. but in a democracy people often forget that the mob makes the rules; the majority can often have the wrong opinion of what needs to be done. The result is a vicious circle that eats away at itself.. and it's citizens.

  • Is this the same Pinkerton agency that protected the robber-barons of the 1890s by beating union activists, helped A. Mitchell Palmer round up communists and anarchists during the first "red scare", and colluded with Sen. McCarthy in his witch-hunt against the supposed "communists" in the government?

    Why are we letting any corporation, let alone one with a century-long record of trampling civil liberties handle school security? Has the NC state government lost it?
  • ...is a reference to "The Wave", an old ABC Afterschool Special. One of my (only semi-clueful) teachers showed it in class when I was in HS ten years ago; I'd highly recommend it. Here's a link:

    http://us.imdb.com/Title?0083316 [imdb.com]

  • The chances of it ruining my child's life, IMHO, is approximately a thousand times greater then the chances of it saving my child's life. Note the worst case here; it's not "status quo, nothing changes" - it's my child's life ruined at the first hint of any sort of unorthadox behavior.

    Try explaining that to your nine year old when s/he's pulled out of school because someone immature itdiot with no real understanding of the consequences - say, another 9 year old - thought it would be really, really, really funny to tell someone s/he said they were going to blow up the school.

    If you really want you kid to go to school someplace where only the strongest, most vicious, amoral kids manage to survive, feel free to find such a place; just don't expect me to send my children to school with your little criminals.

  • EXACTLY! Those kids who have never been properly trained with a gun don't know the awesome responsiblity that comes with it. While I don't live in a house that has a gun in it, I've used guns since I was 8 or 9, but used them in a proper way. Holding the gun, feeling it fire, seeing the dent it makes in the sheet of metal behind the target, seeing the flat bullet after it's hit that metal, make you realize just how powerful things like guns are. The same thing applies for videogames. When you see someone explode in a violent videogame, does it make you want to go out and kill someone? NO! The REAL problem is with things like "Loony Toons" on TV. How many times have you seen a cartoon get shot, have holes go through him, and get right back up? Kids being trained that it's not possible to die because of things like that are what the problem is. When you've been seeing things like that all your childhood, it makes it hard to believe that the gun will actually permanently kill anyone.

    In short, don't blame the violent things that actually show the awesome power of a weapon, blame the violent things in which the person who got hit falls over with a hole in his body, and is back in the next scene.

    Ok, I know this was a little bit off topic from the WAVE thing, but I felt it had to be said.

  • If this gets implemented, kids are going to suffer and badly. Budding engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists are going to be labeled, in an officially sanctioned way, and then made to conform against their will. This will break them and they will retaliate, perhaps violently. I know this will happen. In fact, it did (don't ask about the sodium hydroxide in the jocks' lockers or the JB Weld in the door locks during a fire drill). This whole Pinkerton thing is spooky. I know it is, because a similar thing happened to me.

    I grew up with asthma, yet I liked sports. When I tried to play baseball or basketball (I was 6'2" in 9th grade), the teachers got afraid of this note that had been circulating since I was in grade school and which I had not known about. The note (which was purely unofficial) mentioned one period of overexertion, a brief (and useless) hospital trip and my mother's anger. I wasn't to hurt myself while at school, she said, and she was mad at the school for letting me do so (even though I was a kid, and kids do things that are physical).

    So I couldn't play sports even though I tried, and even though my childhood asthma has long gone away. I probably shouldn't have tried because it made the stigma worse. I was branded, and an outcast. I was the tall geeky kid that had a mysterious. dubious cloud hanging over him. Pretty soon I started fitting into that mold. The only thing that saved me was the Commodore VIC20 and BASIC. I could -- and did -- spend hours on that thing. I spent so much time on it because nobody else knew the first thing about it (and I didn't have to worry about it liking me). So I found my niche.

    It was a completely asocial activity and a totally complete way of removing me from normal adolescent society. I didn't get (m)any dates, even though people say I'm not at all bad looking. I just didn't know how to interact with people, much less girls. I can't say it was harmful since I'm a happily married stock option millionaire now, but it might not have been the conducive to preparing me for a normal life, and many people might not have had the perseverance (or technical inclination) I had. I knew I had to make things right the only way I knew how, so I got an education; a lesser being would have grabbed Daddy's shotgun and started plugging away during third period. It's amazing how much shit you can take after you've had to deal with BASIC.

    Every day I went to school and got laughed at and made fun of, even though I'm a very sociable person, funny, nice, and people now generally like me. I was a pariah in high school, and a pariah before it was cool and you could get away with it. I had to break new ground in being a gloomy, moody, socially introverted, outcast kid. I was the quintessential geek prototype. I was even in the chess club, and I even played Dungeons and Dragons (although it seems really funny to actually spell out the name "D&D"... :-). The reason is because I was labeled. And once I was labeled early on, that label stuck.

    Imagine it's 2002 and you're like me: spending all your time on the computer, logging on to BBSes (!) and not going to parties, dances, homecoming, track and field. You'd rather be on the PC. What happens? You get labeled. And you'd probably get labeled in such as way as to prevent you from being on the PC. And then you'd have no outlet, yet the label would stick (trust me on this: the label will always stick, even 18 years later). You go completely nutty and you react the only way a teenager can: you act out.

    So people (the word "educators" makes me sick) decide you need "integration" and regular "activities" to achieve "normalcy". So they put you in PE and sports and all that (in "low stress" activities, mind you, which makes it even worse) and you get your ass kicked, your shoes filled with shit while you're showering, names called, fights picked, stories told, etc. It's a horribly cruel life and the only thing you come away with is you know that POKE and PEEK aren't what you do in the shower and how to kick a big guy in the knee (or hit him in the throat) before he hits you so you can still run away. But your teachers have your best interests at heart. They want to make you "normal". Pardon my French: FUCK ALL THAT NONSENSE. They should encourage and nurture whatever gifts a kids has, not get their brown-nosing, toady classmates to turn them in for money! What the hell kind of message do you think that sends?!?

    You will KILL children with these bounty programs. And that's what they are: bounty programs. I KNOW I would have been turned in, and I know I would have reacted against those that ratted me out. I know it with all my heart. Hell, 18 years later I can even remember the names of the people that would have been first in line to turn me in and get their cash (Blake Bottle, Kevin Maloney and Todd Peterson are you out there?). I would have been dead if I hadn't been left alone in school. I mean, we're talking eight years of hell here, with the only solace being my one other geek friend and a really bad computer. If people could have turned me in for being shunned?!? Jesus, do you realize what that would have done? Ever play "Smear the Queer" when you were in school? They probably call it something else these days, but the concept is the same: shit on the other guy as much as you can because you can only feel good about yourself if you make someone else feel bad. People felt good because of me a lot.

    School was traumatic, sure, but I got over it, mostly because my parents saw what was happening and bought me new computer hardware all the time :-). The only thing good to come of it is that I'm extremely sure about who I am and what I can do (and those guys who ridiculed me are probably going to be installing the Corian counters I'm having installed in the new house I just paid cash for). But if I had had classmates making money by turning me in for being what little of myself I could show in public, I'd have either taken my own life or taken a rifle to school. No wonder kids are drawing a bead on their fellow classmates with things like this Pinkerton bounty going on. I would have too. I'd be in jail instead of writing ecommerce apps and having babies and thinking about carpet and 401(k)s. It's not right to snuff out a budding geek before he find his calling, that's what will happen.

    Ugh. I can't talk about it anymore. I pray to God that my kids never have to deal with Pinkerton's ideas and WAVE-like programs. If they, do, I'm finding them a school that cares about them. Heck, I might even still react to their Orwellian persecution. Who's to say I'm socially viable after what I've been through? Maybe if my co-workers could turn me in for a bonus or a t-shirt things would be ok... :-)

    -B

  • Lets say you unroll WAVE as it is. How do you expect to filter out significant (we'll ignore whether they are correct or not) submissions from the noise?

    *Every* teenager, to some extent, goes through angst, pain, loneliness, and insecurity. At any point, an angry teen can turn in another, when both are behaving perfectly normal.

    Your
    <a href="http://www.waveamerica.com/waveline/earlysig ns.htm">Early Signs</a> page lists things that are so vague that they apply to almost everyone, depending on how sensitive, subtle, or eager one is to try to 'get' someone.

    Some thoughts then. If your system describes perfectly ordinary people, how useful is the system? What's really going to happen, I suspect, is that you'll get so much noise that you'll be swamped. And the problem won't be false positives as much as you'll see the true problem. That many people are lonely and hurt and suffering.

    -AS
  • I must say that aside from the comments others have made thus far pointing out the possible defects of such a program, I have to give Pinkerton some amount of credit for being extremely courageous.

    (I can just feel the fingers flying on the keyboard-of-flame now...)

    Police organizations are not public corporations, and thus are not exposed to (as much) liability with regard to invading a person's privacy. Certainly, if the police make a "bad arrest", they have to (a) let the person go, and (b) sometimes apologize, but by-and-large no multi-million dollar litigation awards are found against the police departments and Attorneys General offices of America.

    I've always thought that American business stayed out of the law enforcement business (except for private law enforcement, the kind that Pinkerton pioneered) because of the threat of loss of viability that a bad call can make.

    Pinkerton clearly is courageous enough to risk their stockholder's equity to buck this trend.

    I await with much anticipation the first time that an otherwise harmless social outcast with deep pockets, such as you might find in the New Trier school district in Wilmette Illinois, hires his own tort lawyer after being fingered by Pinkerton, and subjects them to a legal ass whuppin' the likes of which they've never seen.

    I'm proud of Pinkerton for having the courage to expose their stockholder's to the unlimited capital liability that one single screw-up can expose them to in the name of "saving high school." Good luck.
  • Currently I am reading 1984. The first thought that came to my mind when reading about Pinkerton a few weeks ago was how much this sounds like the Spies in the book.

    They guy that lived accross the hall from Winston was actually proud of his little girl for turning him in to the Thought Police because she overheard him talking in his sleep about "Death to Big Brother."

    My question for the list: "Have you ever read Orwell's 1984, and what do you think of turning kids into real life Spies?"

    Katz, please don't let him off the hook on this question if you do decide to ask it. I would love to hear a straight answer from him.
  • Oh, way before then! Try Babylonia.
  • What if it TOOK your child's life?

    Harrassment by peers is bad enough, but then to have your school, nay, some national investigative organization have your name in a database of "dangerous" kids, pestered by psycologists simply because your a bit different or you got in a fight with somebody. What do you think the result will be?

    I can count on my hands the number of school murders committed by teenagers in all or North America. Now try counting the number of teen suicides.

    Now which one do you think is a bigger problem in North America

  • What you really need to ask is what type of life do you want to provide for your child?

    The type of death that you help prevent is not importiant if as a result your child's life is not worth living.

    What if your child was forced to a private school after being contiously harrassed because they are different?

    I knew several people in high school that were subjected to torment far worse than even steriotypical fraternity hazing at universities.
    One person in my high school suffered a fractured skull when they were thrown into a bush (a common hazing ritual at the time) next to the building.

    It was the attitude of the school and the administration that allowed these problems to happen. "Bushing" was given a blind eye at my school until a student's skull was fractured. It is the attitude and atmosphere that kills.

    If you are worried about your child, be a friend to your child and other children. Get to know them, mentor them, and let them know that they are importiant. Open your eyes and see the children living in poverty, the latch-key children, and those with single parents that are struggling. They need someone to look up to.

    Imagine going to work and being lectured all day (training sessions with no feedback), silently submitting proposals, having them marked and returned, feeling the stress of relationships with co-workers, but then having nobody to share your day with.

    Now remember that most fathers spend an average of something like 15 seconds communicating with their children on an average day.
    Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would feel.
  • get a book called "the Crucible". I forgot who wrote it

    "The Crucible" -- a stage drama -- was written by Arthur Miller, who also wrote the famous play "Death of a Salesman".

  • I'm suddenly reminded of a movie that I saw in a middle school history class. The plot: a teacher, wanting to demonstrate how Adolf Hitler was able to turn Germany into an anti-sematic state so easily, forms a club on his campus and invites all students to join. Slowly the club turns into a neo-nazi type organization with hatred channeled at anyone who doesn't join the club and play by their rules. Members were encouraged to report friends who didn't join or adhere to the club's rules. The club was called The Wave (which I believe was the name of the movie too, but I can't be certain). Scary stuff. Maybe the developers at Pinkerton should watch this movie before rolling out their program to see the kind of horror they could be starting with this program.

    ~Caliban
  • Does anyone know if there are any laws against this sort of thing? I seem to remember companies getting in all sorts of trouble by collecting information about minors. These companies got in trouble for collecting marketing information, specifically, but I don't really see how collecting psychological profiles would be any different, if not worse.

  • I don't believe it. I truly don't. How in God's name do you (Pinkerton) expect this to help kids? How does the reporting of them, anonymously, after they might have had a bad day helping someone?

    It's obvious that this should be a help line and not a hurt line. There should be someone on the other end wanting to talk to these kids, hear what they have to say, listen and try to understand them. This should not be a damn snitch line! When is it that people will understand that silence in the classroom from a kid doesn't mean he's planning on killing everyone. It might mean he's thinking or just daydreaming (god forbid). There are such things as withdrawn people who turn out okay, who understand high school is a crock of shit and once its over life does get better, who understand that this ends at some time or other. There are others that do not. And these are the ones we should be helping! (Key word here: "Help") They should not be alienated, reported, incriminated, or persecuted for being different than Joe Quarterback or Susie Cheerleader. These kids need attention in a helping sense, not someone pushing ideals and psychology exams at them. Leave that shit alone. Of all the pretentious things I've ever heard of, the "T-shirts and prizes" took the cake. Good Lord, what a mess that would have been. I appreciate the fact that Pinkerton listens. I just hope they hear us.

    E

  • Given that this post is by an Anonymous Coward, I think it's pretty clear that this post is a blatant troll.
  • As has been documented elsewhere [pbs.org], such profiling is dubious at best and harmful at worst. Further, the dubious usefulness of anonymous tips [msnbc.com] have even been questioned by our current schizophrenic [usatoday.com] Supreme Court. Anonymous tipping in the hands of angry and powerless high-school students is simply ripe with abusive potential. No program of this kind will be able to successfully prevent school shootings, no matter how good it might make us feel to know it is in place.

    - Rev.

  • When I saw the name of this program, I thought of one of the best ABC "Aftershool Specials" ever, "The Wave" [imdb.com].

    Starring Bruce Davison, it was based on a real incident. A skilled and empathetic teacher was trying to answer a student's question: "Why did the people of Germany follow Hitler?". So he set up an experiment, and created a symbol, a stylized wave logo, and became leader of this movement. The "Wave" movement stressed Power, Discipline and Superiority. They had "Wave" t-shirts, banners, etc. Anyone who was not part of the movement was an outsider, and wound up being threatened.

    This film had a profound effect on me when I was in school, and I'm stunned that the company was so clueless that they didn't do a simple search to find out that "The Wave" had already been used as a noxious symbol of school opression. Bad corporation! No cookie!

  • Actually I think that you might be on to more than you realize right there. Let's project the adult's reaction into a wider societial area.

    Who's in charge right now? The Baby Boomers. Those 40's and 50's-somethings that grew up durring the 1960's and made such a fuss about the wars and peace and love. Essentially they made a huge mess that took a while to clean up, and in all reality the mess is still here.

    However they had this experience of shaking the foundations of their oppressive society. They have a underlying, if not basic, understanding of how this happened.

    And because of that they understand what to look for to keep it from happening again.

    Now before somebody thinks I'm paranoid, let me say this: I don't think that all of this is planned. Nor do I think that this is something that is seen on a consious level.

    If you look at how Social Scientists examine cultures, they define the "purpose" of the adolesent as being one of discontent and challenging their parent's world. In turn the parent's usually try and socialize the youths to a norm and keep them from changing too much. In the end it became a form of keeping the status quo.

    And who better to keep the status quo from changing than those who changed it once.
  • [1 Hits or bullies others.]
    If I remember correctly, "hitting" is also called "assault" and can be handled by the local police. "Bully" i take to mean "to treat in an overbearing or intimidating manner". So every high school Phys Ed teacher will be in BIG trouble now.

    [2 Expresses uncontrolled anger.]
    As opposed to "controlled" anger? Define "uncontrolled".

    [3 Has unlawful possession and use of firearms.]
    The key word again is "unlawful". Why aren't the local police called in these situations?

    [4 Displays intense intolerance or prejudice.]
    So intolerance is unlawful now? I hate stupid people, absolutely cannot tolerate them. Now come arrest me.

    [5 Has excessive feelings of isolation and/or rejection.]
    So how does someone ELSE define whether MY feelings are "excessive". Perl Jam would get 20 to life under this criterion. Probably 90% of geekdom felt excessively isolated or rejected in school.

    [6 Conveys violence in writings and/or drawings.]
    Dealing with violent emotions through writing or drawing seems like a damned HEALTHY way to vent to me. A lot of people call this "art".

    [7 Uses drugs or alcohol on campus.]
    Again, where in the hell is local law enforcement? Do we REALLY need yet another avenue of oppression?

    [8 Makes threats.]
    Define "threat". Saying "You'll be sorry!" could suddenly get me on the "list".

    [9 Suddenly has bad grades or little interest in
    school.]
    Gee, perhaps school SUCKS. Perhaps I'm daydreaming about summer vacation. Perhaps I can't quite fathom Chemistry 101. Now I'm on your "list".

    [10 Is easily angered by minor things.]
    Again, define "minor". People cutting me off in traffic angers me. A president that lies under oath angers me. Stupid people anger me. Uh-oh. I'm on the "list" again.

    This ill-considered garbage is put out by people more concerned with making a buck while appearing politically correct than with truly addressing a complex issue.

    Who was it that said "for every complex problem, there's an answer that's simple, elegant and wrong?"

    I would say this makes me angry, but i don't want somebody dropping dime on me!
  • Don't blame teachers and administrators in schools. The problem they face starts much earlier than school - and is down to parenting and home life.

    Nonsense. They are complicit in a system whereby a demographic (the young) is deprived of liberty and all rights otherwise guaranteed citizens, and this is done without due process of law, no finding of guilt nor accusation of crime. That violence should errupt in such system should surprize no one. Human nature is not suspended in the young.

    A century ago school administrators and teachers collectively agitated for state mandated school attendence laws for the self-serving purpose of guaranteeing themselves work; to this day they obstruct every effort to make that incarceration less burdensome and more humane, because it would deprive them (they feel) of job security. (I live in Boston -- you should see what the teachers' union has been up to this month!)

    I have no trouble holding them accountable for the conditions in the institution they built and defend.

    Until attendence at state-run or state-approved schools is no longer mandated by law, there will be no "solution" to the problem.
    ----------------------------------------------

  • Alas, it is not Pinkerton's job to care why you were depressed, only to prevent your acting out in/against the school.

    And if you were a depressed, abused child, you certainly are meeting their criteria. Many of the most violent students (in my experience at least) are/were being smacked around at home.

    Being a victim is a threat by Pinkerton's lights. And they're not wrong. But their job is not to fix the problem of hurt or damaged people; it's to prevent the hurting or damaging of an institution. That is part of why they are so scary.
    ----------------------------------------------

  • From the Raleigh NC News and Observer newspaper of
    02/11/2000

    Schools to get program aimed at violence

    RALEIGH -- Gov. Jim Hunt announced Thursday a comprehensive violence prevention program in the state's public schools that will employ a toll-free student tip line, a Web site and an awareness campaign.

    The program is called Working Against Violence Everywhere, or WAVE. It is the result of recommendations from the Governor's Task Force on Youth Violence and School Safety.

    Pinkerton Services Group, a division of the international security firm Pinkerton Inc., will staff and operate the toll-free line, (888) 960-9600, on which any student, parent or school staff member can notify authorities of school violence concerns.

    Pinkerton and the Raleigh-based Center for the Prevention of School Violence have developed a contact list of school and law enforcement personnel in each of the state's school district who can be contacted if needed because of hot-line tips.

    the AC
  • For some reason when I first read this I thought it was a strange field for the world-known security company to be setting foot in. Pinkerton's Inc is the company that specialises in armored car cash delivery, security guards for concerts, and consulting services for heavy duty physical security. Pinkerton Corp is a much smaller company specialising in data processing fraud control, and seems to have products similar to WAVE. Jon, can you find out who exactly this company is?

    I would think the upper management are already feeling the probes of a few high profile lawsuits, and are trying to feel out how bad it could come down on them. Perhaps their lawyers assured them the constitution of the US was repealed a few years ago, and this is perfectly legal. Perhaps they are being threatened with copyright infringement [imdb.com].

    The shocking part of this program is offering incentives to kids to snitch out their classmates. Why stop at a few dollars or a T-shirt (I doubt they will be giving out Korn or Marilyn Manson shirts :-), why not let kids know they can get better grades by filing 20 reports during the school year. Hell, I didn't even think twice about helping my friends grow marijuana to make a few quid when I was young, and it was majorly illegal. A system like this which will give me a few dollars just for naming a name will be a no brainer.

    Eventually you could make the system mandatory, every student has to make at least one anonymous claim against another before they can graduate. This was a basic skill taught in old communist East Germany by the Freie Deutsche Jugend, every student had to regularly make reports about fellow students, their families, and their neighbors. This action carried over into adulthood, making the entire country report on itself to the Stasi. Now this action is so ingrained in Ossies it is a big security problem for companies in Germany, and many companies have now instituted a no-ossie policy for all sensitive work, because corporate espionage is so easy with an ossie.

    I can't see any kids wanting to wear a cap or T-shirt that would associate them with being a rat-fink, except for possibly a few misguided troublemakers. I can see an opportunity for knockoff shirts worn by the pranksters stating "I ratted out my friends for this T-shirt. Be nice to me or you are next"

    What safeguards, checks and balances, neutral oversight, and legal penalties are in place to prevent abuse of the system, either by the government or students? If one of the Pinkerton Überwachen abuses the system for personal gain, will they face lengthy jail time? Will Pinkerton gather all the information on students in North Carolina (and maybe the whole US), and a few years down the road start selling that information to insurance companies or job research firms? If they do violate the law, will the president of Pinkertons go to jail? Somehow I doubt it.

    Look further down the road after this system has students fearing to make a single misstep, and you can see this being used as a peer pressure tool by adolescents. "Suck me, you bimbo cheerleader bitch, or me and the whole football team will call WAVE and tell them about your suicidal tendancies" will have a lot of impact, especially on a young girl who may have already been put through the WAVE wringer because she is anorexic or once got depressed after a breakup.

    A system whereby accusers can remain anonymous is wide open to abuse. On the internet we call it flamewars, trolling, spamming, sniping and a whole bunch of other bad names. We should know better, we can see how the internet is, which is why a system whose only output is to make students afraid is a very bad thing.

    the AC

  • I also have a report. There are several groups of people that cause a lot of trouble in school. They gang up to pick on people who aren't like them. While they typically are on the lower end of the grade scale they perennially win the popularity contests to gain positions in government. They are aggressive, belligerent, and violent. They ritually don cultish clothing and beat each other up on fields, and are celebrated for this.

    Please, if you see any of these people call the free number so they can get the help they need and can reenter society rehabilitated.
  • Damn I wish the moderation system would be revised. As it is I get moderation points when there are only stupid posts and articles around that I don't want to moderate. For months now I've completely abandoned moderating because I simply got a bucket o points when there was nothing interesting around. Hey, how about giving some /constant/ or /renewed/ amount of points that people can use whenever they want.

    It's poor AC gems like this I want to moderate up but can't. +1 Informative
  • Let's not forget that the Pinkerton Agency got its start in the last century, providing hired thugs to violently attack striking workers. If you don't believe me, look up the Pullman Strike.

    This company's history is one of thuggery, up to and including murder. It's no surprise that they want to cash in on school officials' paranoia with a database of people who "don't fit in."

    I will donate one thousand dollars to the first lawsuit against Pinkerton brought by any person that this pack of jackbooted thugs slander by sticking in their database. Anyone else?

    -jcr
  • The Salem Witchhunt is part of what gave rise to the American Revolution. But yes, there certainly have been dark periods for freedom in America: The Whiskey Rebellion, Civil War, and Vietnam Draft.

    The interesting part is how much _angst_ these episodes have had upoin the national character. Comparative incidents in other countries seem to be accepted with resignation. This is not a path to learning, but to repetition.

    As for freedoms, I have no doubt that if America were less free, the rest of the world would be too. It is competition from American and it's freedoms that have actively forced many countries (the UK included) to treat it's citizens better.

    America has some of the worst (best?) politicians/officials on the planet. They are remarkably devoid of common/public interest except in speeches. They certainly need threat of arms (your detested 2nd Ammendment) too keep them in line.
  • Wasn't there a shoot'em'up in a small Alberta town (Taber?) a few years back? And maybe in Quebec?

    I expect fewer incidents of all kinds in Canada because there are one-tenth the people.

    I was at my kids school, and was frankly surprised by the "wall of Shame". There were oinly six incidents listed. Columbine was by far the worst, but it's still only two/year. Average murders=5.

    Regrettable, but teenage drinking, or even sober driving is thousands of times more lethal.
  • [in answer to "what if your child ruins my child's life?":] You can repair that.

    Can you? What makes you so sure?


    I'm one of those who undoubtedly would have been reported to the folks running this program. In my days in high school, I was a full year younger than the next youngest person in my class. I was smaller, lighter, weaker, and slower than nearly all of my peers. I was also the one they turned to in computer math class (in the days when computer math was taught via teletypes talking to a mainframe halfway acros town) - but no other time. The rest of the time, I was bullied, teased, beaten, and ostracized. As it is, it took a year of psychotherapy and antidepressants, 20 years later, to begin to reverse the effects of my high school experience. I'm still getting over it. I'm now 39 years old, about to turn 40, and only in the past couple of years have I been anything approaching happy.


    I know what the kids who commit school violence are going through. I was there myself. The first thought that popped into my head when I heard about Columbine was "That could have been me...".


    Those kids don't need others turning them in anonymously, with or without reward, so they can be further singled out for ostracism and abuse at the hands of an uncaring society. They need HELP . They need to know that someone cares about them. They need understanding. They need acceptance.


    I'm sorry you can't accept them, whether in the name of your kids' safety or otherwise. The simple truth, though, is that this is exactly the wrong approach. Reach out to these kids. Don't turn them in, or away, or out...


    I wouldn't wish any parent to have to deal with having their kid murdered. The solution, as someone wrote in reply to Katz' original article, is to have schools be places no kid would dream of blowing up. If we can accomplish that, then no parent need have that fear again.
    --

  • I sincerely hope this is successful, too. However, if there are people out there who want it (and from the attitudes expressed by NC leaders, there certainly are), there are people out there who will build it. Even if Pinkerton listens to the voices of reason and stops this scary venture, someone will step up in their place to serve the needs of their country . . . cough . . . make some money.

    I'm overjoyed that Pinkerton is at least being open to listening to the public. Would that everyone were so responsive. Some day, however, something like this will happen and the only way to fight it will be through legal routes. This project is in violation of constitutional rights, and I hope and pray that when the day comes there will be people willing to fight it, lawyers willing to take the task on, and jurists perceptive of the gravity of this.

  • As a writer (and all around media super star!), you're well aware that _how_ a person utilizes language has a tremendous impact on how their message is recieved.

    Words like "geek" and "geek pride" have been fantastically succesful and well recieved within this community, and I think they will continue to work well (though with enough hype and commodification, just about anything can lose its power.)

    The point is, using a phrase like "geek" casually in this context would ultimately take attention AWAY from the issue at hand (the protection of the kids) and turn it elsewhere. Conciousness raising is fine and dandy, but what you're about to do is essentially a damage control -- it's a fine line to tread, but you've got to stick to the immediate problem.

    This is best illustrated with examples:

    Say gay students were getting beaten up at school (happens). Were I to meet with school officials to discuss the issue I wouldn't say "But ma'am, the fact of the matter is that these faggots have done nothing to instigate, etc., etc."

    Faggot -- while perfectly acceptable within the gay community -- is not something you would use in a formal situation with outsiders to discuss what amounts to problem resolution. It has been -- and continues to be -- a perjorative term used by outsiders to label the group. Sure, it conjures up images of how we've treated gays, but it diverts attention from the immediate issue and further confuses things.

    Replace gay with black and faggot with nigger, it's even worse (though the context and the legacy of the words is admittedly a bit different than the geek parallel -- which is why I think the faggot thing works best.)

    You are entirely correct that the use of the term "geek" has gotten a lot of good press for the whole movement. But same for faggot, and moreso for queer. Neither of which would I employ in a situation like the above.

    Plus -- god forbid -- someone might *not* know what you're talking about. While undoubtely a number of their reps have read the slashdot postings, chances are that you're going to (if not now, eventually) wind up talking to someone who's "out of the loop" and is old enough to have an image of "geek" that has little to do with the technophiles we know and love. You know, carny alcoholic who's brain has turned to mush and bites the head off a chicken?

    I fear a situation like _that_!

  • Damn, I wish I were moderating today so I could moderate this up. I think this really gets to the core of the issue.

    We keep pushing each other farther and farther apart. It seems like people don't even really interact with each other anymore or express their feelings. I guess when you're afraid of getting sued, etc. for just about anything anymore it's pretty hard to open up to people.

  • I wish I could provide constructive criticism for Pinkertons. I'm impressed with their willingness to talk and it would be nice to encourage them. Unfortunately this program is beyond saving.

    To go beyond the reporting of illegal *behavior* is to validate the notion of thoughtcrime. You don't have to *do* anything to get attention, just be reported as having *said* something. How many of us have not wished someone ill, or fantasized physical harm when furiously angry at them? In a sane person it does not lead to action, passes with time, and helps the angry person deal with their anger. To repress this natural response is extremely dangerous, IMO.

    Hopefully we can all agree that one of the very worst things about the USSR during its peak of power was that you couldn't talk to anyone -- friends, lovers, or family, without wondering whether your words would get back to the KGB, with very serious consequences. Inhibiting the expression of criticism and strange ideas does not improve a society, nor make its members more secure, or even increase its productivity. It merely helps preserve the status quo. While other nations grow and make progress.

    There are basically two differences in our situation. One is that many of us think that our institutions are well-intentioned and that they won't misuse information gained by secret informants. Optimists. Information is power, and unless controlled by balancing forces power will be used, eventually. Even if you assume that institutions are now and forever will be benign in this country there is still an issue of whether we all share the same goals. For example not everyone thinks stamping out Gothic culture would be a positive, but some more conservative folks might. Who controls what is "acceptable" and what is not? And how?

    The second difference is that this program is only being applied to minors. It is in fact a good exercise to think about how you would feel if this program were being used in the workplace instead of schools. Would you really want to add this kind of anonymous informing to an already furious struggle for status? Can you imagine it *not* being abused to eliminate political enemies? The kids in schools who this program is being applied to, without their consent, are the future citizens of this country. They will learn how this country works and what to expect in terms of fair treatment from their expreriences in school. I think it is even *more* important that minors realize they have rights, and responsibilities that come with those rights. If you do not interfere with other people's rights it is supposed to be ok to be different or angry in this country.

    Finally this whole concept is ack-basswards. If you want a more peaceful, happier society, we should be eliminating the causes of anti-social behavior and making sure everyone feels included in that society, not designing alarms to detect the onset of violence.
  • I think I have a practical demostration that your point is deeply wrong:

    In the rest of the "developed" nations, kids (and the rest of the population) don't have access to guns. All (not some) families are strongly, as you call them, anti-guns. And we don't have problems with them.

    In Europe a very small portion of criminals are underage, and usually they are small offenders. Things like high school shooting are nearly unheard of. Except when we watch American news, of course.


    I'm afraid that you're the one whose information is "deeply wrong". Part of the problem is that the media has fed you propaganda, and part is that the interpretation of the data is incorrect.

    The relevant statistics are related, not to how many people are injured or killed with a gun, but how many people are injured or killed.

    And a related issue is how diverse the population is, and how much of their culture is retained.

    The United States has a much more diverse population than the states of Europe, which each tend to be primarily one cultural group with smaller admixtures of others.

    Here in the US, a person of English descent experiences, and commits, lower rates violent crime and murder than a person of English descent in England. The same is true of a person of Japanese descent vs. such a person in Japan, a person of African descent vs. such a person in Africa, and so on.

    A particular problem in Europe is home invasions - when the occupants are home. This is also a problem in Canada. But in most of the US (excluding a few mostly-disarmed cities and states) burglars are very careful to enter only when the home is UNoccupied. The ratio of invasions of occupied vs. unoccupied buildings is very strongly correlated with the local gun ownership percentage and with how the local laws affect the probability that an occupant will be able to defend with a gun.

    Invasions of occupied homes are a big issue - because a crook who will do this is willing to injure or kill the occupants. Indeed, they often do this even if the occupants cooperate completely.

    Here in the US we don't have "football hooligans".

    I could go on.

    Don't you think it's a lot safer here, where I can be sure no one, ever, is going to shoot me?

    No, I don't. Because you can't be sure of that, and because being shot isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    In the US it is estimated that victims or bystanders stop crimes by using a gun well over two milliion times a year - which is many times higher than the number of crimes that are successfully completed by a criminal with a gun.

    A victim who fully cooperates with a criminal has about a 1/3 chance of experiencing serious injury or death. A victim who resists in any way (but one), by arguing, running away, fighting bare handed, or with a knife or other weapon has a much higher chance of injury. (Over 50% if resisting with a knife.) The exception is resistance with a gun. This cuts the risk almost in half compared to full cooperation, and is thus the most successful strategy.

    As for the criminal's choice of weapons when committing such things as armed robbery: You're much less likely to sustain death or permanent injury, or any injury at all, if the crook uses a gun than if he uses a knife or a club. This is both because you're more likely to go along with him if he threatens with a gun, and because if you are wounded you're more likely to survive, and likely to heal more quickly and completely, from a gunshot wound than from knife or club wounds.

    As to not having to worry about the crooks having guns, that's totally bogus. They can easily import them disguised as harmless bales of illegal drugs. (Much of the European undergound is now armed with FULL-automatic AK-47s, military surplus from the former Soviet Union. Over here they tend to stick to semis or revolvers.) Well over a third of guns in criminal hands, both here and there, were stolen from military supplies or police departments (and often sold by the officers themselves).

    If these supplies were ever to dry up (and let's see you disarm the police and the armies of Europe!), it's easy to make guns in a garage machine shop. (Indeed, some crooks are now turning out higher quality guns in undergound weapons mills than much of the commercial production available to civilians OR police.)

    Finally, Europeans are subject to periodic bouts of tribal warfare, with death rates that make those of all civilian violence disappear into the noise. HOW many million died in World War II? How about the recent bouts of "ethnic clensing" (the politically correct term for genocide)? You're just a shot-dead if it's done in a war as if it's done by a crook.

    The last time anything on a similar scale happened over here was about 140 years ago. But it's not for want of trying. Back about WW II we had a problem with the Klan similar to the one Germany had with the Brownshirts. But our people were armed. The Klan lost so badly you hardly hear about it any more.

    We don't even have to shut them up. We still have a few dozen Klansmen, and perhaps a half-dozen Nazis, in each of our major cities. Every now and then they get a permit and stage a march. The streets are usually lined with jeering onlookers with picket signs (and who knows how many concealed pistols). Nobody gets hurt. It's all quite entertaining - especially their total frustration.

    And you think it's responsible for a parent to teach a kid how to use a gun, and to buy one for an anniversary.

    Absolutely.

    Because I care about the child's safety, and the safety of the law-abiding citizens. Because I don't distinguish violence committed with a gun from violence committed with other weapons, or brute strength. And because I DO distinguish between violence used in attack and that used in defense, and put the safety of the child and the law-abiding citizen, who have violence thrust upon them, above that of the criminals who chose to initiate violence.
  • I'm usually all for going and talking things out. We as people need to learn to communicate with one another.

    But not this time.

    I draw the line at attempts to point out people who are dangerous "before-hand", even if it could potentially benefit people. I will not tolerate companies who make money off of fear. I do not deal with economic terrorists, and I am *appalled* past any politeness at this kind of "service". I did not appreciate students at my high school making my life hell 10 years ago - but I most assuredly will not tolerate administrations doing so. I don't insist (yet) that schools go out of their way to help or promote any one group of kids. If they want to ignore them, that's fine. But when a school's administration tries to pick out a group and isolate them "for their own good", I will fight tooth, nail, claw & lawsuit against it.

    I would advise that Mr. Katz not to go at all. It won't help, period - they're not listening to him for our benefit, but their own benefit, so any help that they get will only make the situation easier to forget. if I could think of a way, I'd use the old artist's trick of "making the ugly, even uglier." Basically, make this service so unpalatable to the common man, that no one could support it. False advice, posters supporting WAVE done in Communist/Nazi agit-prop style, anything to make them seem worse.

    Also, this trip could well hurt. Especially if they can swing the PR around so that it seems that geek groups approve of it.

    Beware Greeks bearing gifts.
  • (excuse me, I must pick my mandible up off the ground and reattach it).

    You mean, Pinkerton is going to talk to somebody about this idea?

    Did they contact John, or did John contact them?


    They actually read the comments on /.?!!


    Excuse me, but I must go outside and see what color the sky is in this strange, new, parallel world I find myself in.


    This is a significant moment in /. history...

  • I heartily agree with you, sig11.

    When it comes to high school, I think our school system is a complete failure. It's geared to turning out lookalike, thinkalike production drones for some nonexistant industrial economy that depends on assembly line workers. I think that's what most people really want out of life, anyway.

    When I went to high school (grad '88 in Maryland) you got severely disciplined if you had hair or clothes that were too wild looking. I was repeatedly suspended for my flourescent green jeans. Also, if you weren't with the school spirit / football agenda, the administration hated you, and just wanted you out.

    If I were a school administrator who really wanted to do something to stop the violence I would:

    1) Adopt a ZERO tolerance policy toward harassment or physical force of any kind, regardless of how the person is dressed, the color of their skin, or what kind of hair they have. No more jocks knocking people down. No more punkers getting shoved in lockers. We wouldn't tolerate that sort of environment in the workplace, why should our schools be any different? Don't we all deserve to walk down the hall without getting shoved?

    2) Not only tolerate diversity, but encourage it. Wear your clothes and hair however the hell you want. Be yourself - express yourself - respect others and learn from them. Similarly to #1, enforce a zero tolerance policy regarding malicious harassment of others because of differences in looks.

    3) Teach non-violent methods of resolving conflict - assertiveness, or whatever. Place as great an emphasis on ethics and getting along with others as on the 3 R's.

    I guess all that could only go so far. If I really was in control, I'd ditch the whole idea of government-run schools, and go to a voucher or free-market system. But I'm not in control, and I'm not holding my breath waiting for the rest of America to lose its addiction to big government :(

    I've rambled enough now.
  • Yeah, sure, that Saudi theory you find so enchanting works just great. You understand, don't you, that if you had happened to have been born in Saudi Arabia there would be about a one-hundred-to-one chance that you would be in that rights-free class that gets their hands chopped off for trivial offenses, rather than being, as you fantasize, in that lofty class which decides, from far above, who gets chopped.

    You might not like life so well in that class. You might dislike it so much that, sooner or later, you might find yourself in the streets doing what the Iranians did, which was to charge His Majesty's guards's machine guns and overrun His Majesty's Palace; whereupon, of course, you would probably just find yourself under a new-and-different yet somehow-the-same dictatorship, next year.

    Hell, if you admire Saudi-style totalitarianism so very much, why don't you move on to the next logical step: Khmer Rouge-style justice? By God, if you simply kill everyone just watch that all-important crime rate drop to zero.

    "Tell that bold Prussian that praises slaughter, slaughter brings rout."

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • Yes, the anger was misplaced. The well-meaning and obviously openminded people at Pinkerton are not directly to blame. I seriously wish that they will take our suggestions to heart, and hope that one mouthy idiot (myself) doesn't impede that.

    Apologies to Pinkertons, and thank you to the pair of /.ers who called me on it.
  • I think we are all overlooking the most obvious solution to all of this...

    Imprison all minors!

    It may seem a little rash at first, but hear me out on this one. There are lots of reasons for it:
    - We are loud and abnoxious
    - We listen to the devil's music!
    - We are evil and do drugs all the time!
    - We drink alcohol and smoke with reckless abandon for our health
    - We have sex with everybody and anything (animals, trees, stuffed animals)... all before we are married!
    It's not like we couldn't adapt to it... we're already forced to go to schools that are a few bars short of a prison. And civil liberies? Pshh... the way legislation is going now, by the time we get them (graduation) we'll won't know what the big deal was about.

    This simple solution could solve all of our problems!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @11:44AM (#1152089)
    What happens in the case where your anti-social (but not criminal) behavior is the result of criminal behavior towards you? Once you are reported and this is discovered, will Pinkerton assist in the prosecution of the original offender? What responsibility is Pinkerton willing to assume with the knowledge that they acquire?

    Background: In junior high when I was 13, I was shy, awkward, and smart, like many /. readers. And, like many /. readers, I am now happy, wealthy, and have an interesting job and life. Unlike many /. readers, I am female. To make a long story short enough for a /. post, I was repeatedly sexually assaulted in Jr. High by one jock in particular, who was cheered on by others.

    This led to a period of anti-social behavior on my part, which was reported. I was dragged into the principal's office. My parents (who were already frantic with worry) were called. I did not tell anybody what had happened, in the end, until years later. I was horribly embarrassed and ashamed, and really, what good would it have done? The behavior started in a church confirmation group and was not just observed but encouraged by the church "counselors" (who were slightly older teenagers anointed "counselor" by the church). The adults saw what was going on as well, but the precipitator was popular, and well, anybody that popular couldn't be a sex offender.

    Now, let's review some of the Pinkerton warning signs:

    -- Expresses uncontrolled anger: Well, yes. Sexual assault will do that to you.

    -- Displays intense intolerance or prejudice: Why, yes. In fact, I did display intense intolerence towards jocks. Funny, their intense intolerence of me was never questioned, but my return anger got me called into the principal's office.

    -- Has excessive feelings of isolation and/or rejection: Funny, that's another side effect of sexual assault.

    -- Uses drugs or alcohol on campus: Yes, it was a useful way of getting through the day.

    -- Suddenly has bad grades or little interest in school: Well, yes. Imagine, I couldn't concentrate on my studies.

    -- Is easily angered by minor things: Certainly. Since I knew that there was no chance that my assaulter would ever be punished, I had little outlet for my anger.

    Now to address a few posts I saw defending the Pinkerton program:

    1) Yeah, but at least you're still alive, and if you'd brought a gun to school and killed the assaulter, he'd be dead.

    Well, yes. That is in fact true, as laughable as the concept is to anybody who knows me. But guess what? He could have brought a gun to school and killed me (he certainly threatened to kill me if I told anyone). I am willing to bet a large sum of money that he would never have been profiled by Pinkerton, or, if he had, it would have been laughed off by the school authorities. So how on earth would Pinkerton have helped this situation?

    2) Your anti-social behavior must be your parents' fault for not monitoring you closely enough. After all, any parent that is involved with their kids will know what is wrong and take steps to deal with the problem. The Pinkerton program is only going to report those kids whose parents aren't involved with them.

    Bullshit. I am and was very close to my parents, and to this day they do not know about this episode. They knew something was wrong, but I couldn't talk about it for years. My mother was a stay-at-home mom (which seems to impress the folks who argue this point), and my father actively supported my forays into math and science. In fact, one can arguably say that it is only because of their support that I survived HS at all and didn't commit suicide. Even with supporting and loving parents, I was called in. What would Pinkerton have helped in this situation?

    Finally, to my original question. I submit that I would have been reported to the Pinkerton program (after all, I was ratted out as "anti-social" in my school by somebody). But should I have reported the assault, would Pinkerton have assisted in the prosecution of the assaulter? Would they have testified on my behalf, or would they have been called in to testify on the behalf of the well-adjusted athlete? Somehow, I suspect the latter.

    Anonymous for obvious reasons.
  • by BOredAtWork (36) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @12:54PM (#1152090)
    Jon,

    While I'm usually one of your most vocal critics when I bother to read your babbling, I'm finding myself in the rather unusual position of agreeing with you on something... it's probably some sign of the apocolypse, but hey, that's life... Anyways, here's my thoughts (some of them, and quite disorganized) on the steaming pile of bullshit that is WAVE America...

    First, the underlying philosophy here has more holes than a donut shop. Think about this, folks. The group that they're attempting to monitor is expected to police ITSELF. This doesn't work in any other facet of society. I can't think of a single instance where a group is trusted to police its own ranks. This is a bad idea from the word GO, no matter what the group.

    Next, one must remember that this isn't just ANY group: we're dealing with CHILDREN. How on EARTH does any rational person expect a CHILD to recognize a psychological disorder? Children can't diagnose THEMSELVES, let alone others. A child can't distinguish between Bobby Joe being constipated, and Bobby Joe suffering from emotional turmoil. Hell, most PARENTS can't tell either! You're asking a group of kids to do the job of trained counselors. Not a good idea at all...

    Another point to keep in mind is that the students WAVE seeks to single out are those who are different or strange. They can't pinpoint "potential troublemakers", so the next best thing is "those who fit the description of a troublemaker". While this is a great theory, in practice it's total bullshit. As many researchers, counselors, doctors and former "troublemakers" (myself included) will attest, the root of a child's problems is usually isolation and lack of social acceptance. While this program certainly will identify the socially isolated, this will only compound the problem. When I was in school, kids could point and say "he's strange!" With WAVE, kids can force ADULTS to say the same thing. If social isolation is the root of the problem, anything that INCREASES social isolation - such as singling out Joey as "that kid who goes to 'special' sessions three days a week" or "that kid who has to talk to the head doctor" - is bad. Think about it; when you were in middle school, wasn't there someone who had some "different" memorable trait or problem that went away during high school, yet was best remembered by it? Putting a 13 year old into counseling, removing him from his classmates, or making him look anymore "strange" in their eyes will just cement that label onto him.

    Now, the BIG point, the REALLY important one, is that WAVE assumes that different==bad. Kids understand what they know... if someone is "different", kids think that's bad. WAVE reinforces this idea. "Call us, and report any suspicious classmates!" To a child, that reads "Call us, and we'll take that weirdo away!" Once they see that this WORKS, that they can get three of their friends to call too and magically Smelly Stan will be in "special" classes, they'll keep calling and calling and calling until they report everyone that's "different". What kids need to learn is that DIFFERENT DOES NOT EQUAL BAD. If anything can be learned from these school shootings, it's that isolation and intolerance of "different" is a bad thing. We should be teaching our kids to recognize differences as a GOOD THING.

    Instead of teaching them this, WAVE teaches them to report the "different" kids so they can "be fixed". THIS IS BULLSHIT. Absolute, total and complete bullshit. I look back on myself in high school, and see myself now, and thank God that WAVE was not in place. I'd have been raising every red flag in the system, and singled out for it. Right now, I'm finishing my Junior year of college, and having the time of my life. College is different. Here, people see something about me that's different, and say "dude, that's cool!" Or "man... I wish I could do that!" In high school, it was "dude, that's fucking gay!" Or "man... that's so fucking odd!" Right now, I've got a gorgeous girlfriend, a great job lined up after graduation, decent grades, loads of friends, and the respect of those around me. I couldn't think of anything else to ask for. In high school, I was "different", and persecuted because of it. A program like WAVE would have singled me out, embarassed the hell out of me, and made my life even more miserable. Basically, WAVE really strikes a chord with me. I'm "unstable" by their definitions, and being told that this is a bad thing really, really pisses me off.

    In review, WAVE operates on philosophies that can be picked apart and revealed to be nothing more than a fresh steaming pile of shit.

    • Children and police their own ranks without bias
    • Children can recognize social disorder, mental illness and dangerous individuals based on their being different
    • Difference from the norm is a Bad Thing in a child
    • We should strive to remove the Differences
    • Singling out Different children and thereby causing them further isolation from their peers will not hurt them

    Quite simply, recognizing and helping troubled children is the job of a trained professional. WAVE puts these responsibilities on CHILDREN.

    Katz, I think you're a poor writer who's here on slashdot because he had the sense to jump on a growing gravy train, but I think you're also now in the position to make a real difference in the world, and do something useful for a change. I really hope you do a kick ass job when you talk to these people. Please, on behalf of everyone who WAVE might eventually effect, don't use this opportunity to hype your books, or terms (geek profiling), or political ideas. Please, please, please, keep your conversation along the REAL subject, and convince WAVE to take a long hard look at their underlying philosophies...

    --

  • by zztzed (279) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @08:45AM (#1152091)
    The problem I have with the term "geek profiling" is its inaccuracy. Not everyone who is singled out for being depressed or violent or suicidal or "different" is a geek. I can think of a few people I know who might be singled out on a couple of those criteria who are most decidedly not geeks. While many (real) "geeks" may meet WAVE's criteria for being "dangerous", that does not mean that everyone who does is a geek.

    --
  • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @08:03AM (#1152092) Homepage Journal
    If I had 100 moderator points (and Slashdot didn't limit the score to 5! :), it would still not be enough. Chromatic's post is one of the best, deepest description of depression, victimisation, etc, I have read.

    A lot of people turn to violence, not through sadism or malice, but because after a while, it's simply the only way they'll ever be heard or seen. Living your life as the Invisible Victim wears thin after a while.

    Of the people most likely to be "caught" in this program, you're most likely to find depressives, manic depressives, survivors of domestic and/or social and/or school abuse (including emotional neglect), physically and/or mentally handicapped people, people with ADHD and/or OCD, the lesser-spotted Asperger Syndrome suferers, etc.

    Then, of course, in areas with abnormally-high numbers of people with the above, it'll be "normal" people (whoever THEY are!) who will be the "outsiders".

    I =HOPE= Jon Katz doesn't go there and sound like he sometimes does in his Slashdot articles. (Mind you, if he did, we wouldn't have to worry about any more articles by him! :)

    This is an important issue, and I hope it gets treated with the respect and importance it deserves. It sounds like it, but "sounds" and "is" are two very different words.

    ObIrreleventTrivia:

    There's a sign in Devon, England, which reads: "Pick your own Strawberries, Raspberries, Cream Teas". Genetic Engineering in England has certainly gone a long way!

  • by Frank Sullivan (2391) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @08:35AM (#1152093) Homepage
    I have very grave concerns about Pinkerton's approach to this problem. Even if we assume that actively attempting to identify potentially violent children is a good thing, it should be left to trained professionals with ethical responsibilities. Peers are neither technically skilled enough to identify danger signs, nor do they have any ethical responsibility to avoid false reporting. Not only will the WAVE system not effectively identify problem students, i can assure you it will generate so much spurious and false data due to erroneous or deliberately misleading reports that it will be worse than useless.

    And if such a system becomes widely used, i fear for my child. He is extremely intelligent, but a social loner. He likes computers, and tends to say exactly what he thinks. This doesn't make him any sort of a danger to society, but it does make him a target for WAVE, not to mention a target for bullies. When i was a child, i behaved much as he did. And had access to guns, too (he does not). Did i shoot up my school? Nope. I went on to become a happy, successful and moderately well-adjusted member of society. I'm sure my son will too.

    Unless the do-gooders decide to take their advice from the bullies and lock him up.
    __
    (oO)
    /||\
  • I would question how these "diagnoses" will take place, as other have already. Pinkerton claims that they will clarify what symptoms should be reportable by using the same symptoms the professional psychiatric community uses, but that doesn't add much (if any) reliability to the analysis.

    The psychiatric community itself accepts that virtually every symptom of anxiety disorders, depression (the leading cause of death for many demographic segments), and mania are merely extremes of commonly occuring issues. The constant debates over symptoms and dignoses cause the DSM to fit, essentially, the moral views of the publishing date. No reputable psychiatrist would disagree that the DSM is as much consenus as it is fact (the difference being that diagnosis & treatment by "consensus" is invariably tainted by moral and political mores).

    A clinically depressed person will be diagnosed differently by any number of professional, experienced phsychiatrists & psychologists, and the practice of allowing school counselors to participate in this (or even worse, completely untrained principals) has only made the issue of improper diagnosis more apparent and dangerous. To allow anonymous students to "diagnose" and turn in their fellows is to invite both paranoia and life-devastating errors, especially in the cases of children who are not "normal" (ie, average) but also not dysfunctional.

    I find it ironic (although I'm sure the irony is lost on those such as Pinkerton who stand to make a profit) that the same day we're discussing the possibility of turning in aberrant children "for their own safety", the front page article on CNN's web site discussed the alarmingly high rates at which children are being prescribed mood-altering (in fact, brain-chemistry altering) drugs.

    The very concept that pre-school children are being prescribed Prozac and Zoloft in hopes to fix their aberrant behavior is shocking and literally nauseating. (Your son eats paste? My god, he's liable to kill someone!)

    Even more fundamentally, activities such as this seem to be nothing short of an assault on our own children. We consider them to be caged animals, praying that with the proper psychopharmocology and big brother tactics we will be able to intervene before the inevitable killing spree begins.

    In what other society, indeed, in what other history, have citizens been so clearly (and mistakenly) terrified by the concept that their children might exhibit the symptoms of free will? That they might decide sneaking out at night is fun?

    Why must we encourage our children to "turn in their neighbors", when similar tactics have consistently and immediately been rejected throughout America in regard to adults? There have been several communities (heavily traffiked by drug users/dealers) where police have encouraged citizens to report any "unusual" behaviour, people or vehicles -- and these measures have always been soundly criticized as disturbing and paranoic, encouraging the use of anonymous tips as retribution between private citizens. This WAVE effort is no different, it just has better t-shirts and a company willing to make money off the abridgement of human trust.

    The simple fact of the matter is that there isn't a shred of statistical or empirical evidence that indicates there is even a chance of this working.

    The simple fact of the matter is that people (whether old or young) who commit the most shocking and heinous crimes (such as mass-murder, serial killings, etc) are impossible to predict or prevent. The most visably disturbed children and adults are rarely (if ever) capable of these kinds of activities, because they require the kind of intelligence and thoughtful planning that are (coincidentlayy enough!) exactly the skills you need to appear "normal".

    While psychiatrists can diagnose ted bundy (or any of the recent teen killers) after the fact, the criminals would all be capable of (and in fact, did) convincing several clinicians of their sanity and harmlessness.

    Ultimately, that's why I can't understand the goals of this program (given the stated intentions). If the goal is to stop "casual" crimes (like drug use, assault of fellow students, abuse or other extracurricular trauma), then the faculty (indeed, any capable observer) would be able to spot the symptoms. There is no need for a guerrilla force of students to root out such problems, as they are not frequently (and even less capably) hidden. They are universally ignored by those capable of helping (meaning teachers, police, and other adults). Fight the barrier of apathy among adults, not the "secrecy" of teens.

    If the goal is to stop killings such as in Littleton, then I wish you good luck. People capable of such violence and mahem are wholly capable of evading amateur detectives and trained psychologists alike.

    White male, upper middle class, highly intelligent, psychological issues from youth. It describes most every serial killer, mass-murderer, and successful businessman in this country. So where do we start the lineup?...
  • You hit the proverbial nail right on the proverbial head with this one. I'm a freshman at a private school (parent's choice, not mine) in NJ, a geek, and know _exactly_ what you're talking about. I mean, it's not blatant hatred that I experience most; nor is it overflowing liking.

    99.44% of the time, it's just plain indifference. Because I don't like the same (crappy) music as everyone else, or enjoy the pointless sports that they do, or drool over the same celebrities, or wear the same clothes (only on weekends - stupid dress code; tie, shirt, etc), I don't fit into their world view.

    And they respond by simply cutting me out of their world.

    I've gone entire days without anyone speaking to me, or noticing my existence, except in class or if I literally bump into someone. Almost everywhere I go, I hear muted giggles and see people pointing (semi-discreetly) at me. And that doesn't even include the one or two _real_ assholes - the people who do things like breaking open the pathetic lock on my locker, pulling random papers out, and tearing them to shreds.

    Having no one to talk to, and no one to talk to me is the most depressing thing I've ever had happen to me - excepting some rather...unpleasant incidents in elementary school I'd really rather not mention.

    I can tell that even the people who _do_ occasionally pity me and talk to me a bit are a little afraid of me - and yet these are the same people (mostly girls) who not only put up with, but encourage their significant others to treat them like dirt. I could go on for pages on the psychodynamics here, I suppose, but I'd rather not spill into a 'Read the rest of this comment...'. :P

    Why is it that people simply find difference so hard to accept? And why is it that such draconian measures such as WAVE are deemed necessary?

    For the sake of myself, of the fellow geek whose post I responded to, and all the other underattended, ignored, abused geeks, I hope that this becomes nipped in the bud; I can just visualize the aforementioned assholes making up some story, 'ratting me out' - and showing up the next day at school, grinning wildly and waving reward checks at me as the security guards drag me into a van.

    I apologize for the rambling nature of this post, and so I'll conclude succintly: we must not let this happen.

    Thank you.
    "If ignorance is bliss, may I never be happy.
  • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @09:10AM (#1152096) Homepage Journal
    Well said.

    With respect to the Boomers:

    There's the positive side of peace, love and understanding, but there was also a lot of really strong bad influences on the Boomer generation too.

    Let's not forget that the communist/socialist influence of college faculties and other academics was at least as powerful as it is today. The government was moving toward socialist policies in the 60's (the Great Society, et al). Revolutionaries in the Third World were being idolized by American adolescents, most of whom had know idea who they were really admiring, and a lot of people were buying the Communist propoganda.

    We had MLK marching for civil rights (who coincidently was a communist sympathizer, although he had much to admire), but we also had Hanoi Jane sitting on VC anti-aircraft guns cheering the destruction of U.S. forces.

    The fact of the matter is, that the Boomer majority is starting to act like a lot of the folks they were enamored with in the 60's, and many of the things they are pushing have a lot in common with the governments of Soviet Russia, China and Nazi Germany.

    Taking away guns, dumbing down education, extorting powerful industries (like tobacco), micromanagement of peoples lives through excessively complex regulation and encouraging people to rat out their friends to the Party or Thought Police or whatever you call it, were and are all tactics of totalitarian regimes the world over, and are all being pushed heavily in the U.S.

    I don't think we are about to become the Britannia of George Orwell's 1984, but so many of his concepts have come to pass in the U.S. and elsewhere that it worries me. We have to remember that the good intentions of the Boomer generation are sometimes subverted by the people that influenced them in their formative years.

    I think Pinkerton needs to consider the example they are setting and keep the interests of the millions of disenfranchised outcasts in proportions with the interests of a very small number of potential victims.

  • they'd seem to be the ingredients for a positive-feedback abuse loop.

    That's a scary phrase: positive-feedback abuse loop. At least for those of us schooled in feedback theory, that sums up a very large chunk of the problem. Frankly, I think that this term itself can change the minds of some people in the psychology/stop-the-shootings biz.

    When somebody is trapped in such a loop, the abuse increases until something snaps in that person. Some will jump out windows, others will start on drug binges, yet others will get an AK-47 and literally go postal. I don't think you can tell which ones will snap which way; the solution is to stop the snapping. And a positive-feedback abuse loop is almost guaranteed to do so.

    There are some people out there that just want to make money on the "going postal" problem (remember, it's not just kids). For those who are really into solving the problem, avoiding these positive-feedback abuse loops solves part of the problem and saves lives.

  • by infodragon (38608) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @09:42AM (#1152098)
    You bring up a valid point. The system can be abused.

    Because the System can be abused why not abuse it in a constructive manner...

    The system is going to be anonymous. This is the only way it will work, i.e. a wimp needs to turn in a bully because he likes to torture cats. If it is not anonymous the wimp will not turn in the bully for fear of getting the CRAP beaten out of him by the bully and his friends.

    Because of this anonymous nature ANYBODY can use it, not just students.

    If this system is implemented just turn in every student in a particular school. Why not get all the parents involved. Make convincing accusations and "way out there" accusations. The system will crumble in an instant, the equivalent of a DDoS attack. How would they be able to go over all the reports? How could they act on all of them, every student?

    If this system is implemented I would be very tempted to organize and execute a DDoS of the W.A.V.E

  • by goliard (46585) on Wednesday April 05, 2000 @06:14AM (#1152099)
    We didn't need people to talk to, or counsellors, or any of that. We just needed something to escape from the sometimes harsh reality. Computer programming, robotics, astronomy, electronics,just a hobby, any hobby. We'd come home after a hard day at middle school (or head over to Radio Shack in the case of Mitnick :), and get involved in something we were really interested in. It would be our salvation, and it would recharge our batteries for the next day.

    You have confused escapism with escape. Escapism is something which distracts you from your misery. Escape is something which removes you from your source of misery.

    Escapism is a band-aid. Escape is a solution.

    Why should anyone who is being tormented, abused, oppressed be expected to treat the very natural and reasonable symptoms of their distress as an inconvenience, a disorder to be cured?

    Would you tell someone to drink alcohol to ease the pain? Would you tell them to self-medicate with illegal pharmaceuticals? It is fundamentally the same thing.

    What young geeks need is not escapism, but escape: escape from the schools which imprison them, which imprison their minds.

    THERE IS NO REASON A YOUNG PERSON SHOULD BE SUBJECTED TO AN ABUSIVE SITUATION. WHY SHOULD A YOUNG PERSON BE REQUIRED TO ATTEND A SCHOOL IN WHICH THEY ARE BEING THREATENED, BEATEN, HARASSED?

    Until young geeks and outcasts have more and better options for LEAVING ABUSIVE SITUATIONS the problem will continue.

    By "leaving" I mean "not being in schools they don't want to any more". This is a matter of law, of custom and of economics. Until it is possible for someone to leave school with impunity and pursue non-institutional choices, there is a sword hanging over their head. Until a geek being abused doesn't have to choose "Gee, should I drop out of school and flip burgers for the rest of my life, or should I risk getting my head bashed against a toilet at school today?" he is still a prisoner of the system.
    ----------------------------------------------

  • by goliard (46585) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @08:29AM (#1152100)

    My question: How does the Pinkerton Corp. propose to prevent or at least discourage the use (or threat of use) of its product to silence dissidents in schools?

    Quite frankly, most of the "weirdos" are in fact dissidents -- critics of the school system, of the culture of school, or particular teachers' conduct, etc.

    Since this product has the potential to wreak havok in someone's life, it almost certainly will be used by teachers and/or peers to threaten or reprise against critics of the status quo.

    It will be used against the publishers of underground paper and websites. It will be used against students who refuse to wear fashionable clothing. It will be used against students who do not elect to participate in certain activities, or who participate in the wrong activities.

    It will be used against gay and lesbian students. It will be used against pagan, muslim and atheist students. It will be used against students who wear black armbands to school to protest wars or other causes. It will be used against students who refuse to fight, or join gangs, or do drugs.

    Do you understand what it is that you are unleashing? Can you put down what you are calling up?

    And how will you sleep at night?
    ----------------------------------------------

  • by CrayDrygu (56003) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @04:22PM (#1152101)
    Forgive me if this has been posted already, I don't have the time to sort through over 600 posts.

    My question for Pinkerton is this: If you've read all the previous comments like you said, you must have seen the innumerable people relating your program to Hitler's Nazi Youth, and to the movie that shares the name of your program.

    Do you see the relations here? If not, why? And what is your response to these comments?

  • by ThunderBucket (73081) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:12AM (#1152102)
    If the system is anonymous, then it seems that anyone could malign a minor with impunity, with almost certianty as to their safety in doing so. What mechanisms would be in place to ensure that the system does not turn into a way to earn money via libel?
    (If it were to have some kind of report tracking, how would that change its effectiveness? Fewer call-ins due to bona fide retribution fears?) It seems that a monetary incentive to anonymously harm someone is begging to be abused.
  • by raibeart (78133) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:20AM (#1152103)
    How can they garuntee that this 800 number will not turn into a "I don't like that person, I'll just turn em in as depressed."

  • by themurray (78325) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @08:23AM (#1152104)
    Unfortunely, American have a right to be assholes and idiots. Freedom is more important, then safety. This Wave Program seems to be a page out of the play book of the Nazi's. The Hitler Youth had a very similar program and it had extreme chance for abuse and help foster a police state. The slow attack of the socialists, globalists and communists in this country at the freedoms and liberty is a danger to american life and long-term stability. It is a shame at the power we have allowed our government to take from the states and the people.
  • by DuctTape (101304) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:08AM (#1152105)
    ...turn in your buddies for Kwik Kash!!! Sounds like it would make for a good revenge tactic, too. Someone pisses you off, turn 'em in for being dangerous, and get paid to boot.

    I love this country!

    DT

  • by WhiskeyJack (126722) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:23AM (#1152106)

    Am I the only one who read this and wished we could pick some other ambassador than Mr. Katz? No offense -- afterall, the man's intentions are good and more or less in the right place -- but I usually find Mr. Katz a little too...strident, I guess, to picture him doing any real good in this meeting, and he often fails to grasp the realities of the situation he's discussing which could lead to misunderstandings which might in turn work against dismantling this abominable WAVE absurdity.

    --WhiskeyJack

  • spankenstein wrote: In high school i would have been a prime target for this. I was a depressed, insomniac, geek/musician that had multi-colored hair in multiple spiky arrangements and a skateboard and a really bad attitude about life. I never went over the edge. But being persecuted like this could have easily pushed the wrong buttons. --

    My name is Mike Greenberg, and I'm 15. I go to Bloomington High School North (BHSN) in Bloomington, Indiana, and am a freshman. I'll try not to ramble. :)

    I am a geek -- I won't deny this. Ever since I was a little kid in kindergarten I was singled out as the 'smart' one. I was in my elementary school's 'gifted' program, and took advanced classes at my middle school. At BHSN I take all advanced classes. With no gratuitous arrogance, I am more advanced than the classes that I partake in, as the level is rather low.

    Ever since fourth grade (my elementary school's gifted program didn't begin until fourth grade) I was ostracized from the 'other' kids and, in accordance with the will of the school administration, isolated from the other students, as well.

    When I went to middle school, I was a 'punk.' While lacking in the dyed-hair department, I wore the 'attire' (pretty much anything that wasn't pop-culture at the time). I still am 'punk,' merely in the sense that my hair is pink and that I don't wear pop-culture clothes. For this, I am singled out.

    Now, my school is pretty cohesive. We don't get a lot of fights after school, we haven't had a suicide shooting. That bond between the students is not universal, though. I am mocked, jeered, and despised by some. In my art class, I am mocked because I argue with the teacher about transcendentalism, for instance. I am not well-liked, and we'll leave it at that.

    I am, as some might say, depressed. I'd really rather not go into it (especially not in a forum like this) but, as it is easy to guess, it involves girls...and drugs...and guys. Regardless of the semantics, I am depressed. I am upset at a variety of things, and look so -- I am often times not my perky, question-answering self, and this is clear to all of those around me.

    Do I pose a danger? Should I be called into WAVE? I know that I would be, but that is not the question that I've posed. I know that I have the sense to not turn my depression and anger into violence. I think this is plainly obvious. But, out of spite and, perhaps, a little bit of fright, I would be reported -- and unjustly so.

    My final question would be: what purpose does this serve? Do you think that a teenager incapable of doing so many things should be, of all things, a judge of his or her peers? Do you think that adults could handle this sort of responsibility? Sure, juries function. Juries, however, judge a single person, for a single crime. Is society capable of judging individuals? Should society have the right to judge individuals? Should teenagers, of all members of society to choose, have the right to judge individuals? I think not.
    --Mike Greenberg
    Thus spoke Zarathustra.



    ===================

  • by hocrap (167178) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @12:48PM (#1152108)
    2.Why not offer a help line for depressed kids rather than a snitch line? Canada has had the Kids' Help Phone for about 10 years now and it is wildly popular and successful, as well as ANONYMOUS

    Kids need some infrastructure to listen to them. Listen about their problems or about their classmate's problems. If you really care about your classmate do you need money or rewards to start to be concerned ?

    If their parent are not the right person to listen to them, they should at least have an anonymous person listening to them.

    What they need is not the reward but a person who can listen to them in the first place. IMHO, I can't figure out why someone need a reward to help his fellow man. If you're not the type of person to get involve you should at least be able to tell anonymously what bother you and someone else can do something about it.

    As a lots of people point out, history shows us some pretty scaring things about denouncing your neighbors, friends or coworker for a reward.

    Ho pleeeeeeeeease, think of our children!
  • by jetwash (171259) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @01:48PM (#1152109) Homepage
    This comment is going to be too far down the chain for anyone to bother reading, and all this has been said elsewhere in the thread, but I feel like I need to vent anyway.

    The premise of the WAVE program has multiple, fundamental flaws:

    "Suspicious" kids are sometimes the least deserving of suspicion. I would have been a prime target for the WAVE program (the Pinkerton one, not the movie one) in HS. I was a loner. I wore black and camouflage. I spent hours on the computer. I listened to violent, angry music. I acted out, angered easily, had a twisted and morbid sense of humor. I was a good shot with a rifle. I was the polar opposite of the crew-cut, ultra-conservative, football-playing, prom-going, illicit-beer-drinking status quo that dominated my school. Despite all this, I'm just fine today - graduated college with distinction, have a great programming job, live in a great city, have an interesting circle of friends, make more at 23 than both my parents, combined, ever.

    Many (not all) of the "symptoms" Pinkerton lists on their website aren't indicative of violent psychosis so much as they are symptoms of an endemic that fails to afflict only the soulless - the emotional tumult of being a teenager. I don't condone violence or violent acts, but to create an atmosphere where adolescent emotion is stigmatized will only increase the wall of isolation that torments many of us at this age.

    This will only reinforce administrative incompetence. High school administrators are notorious for being pathologically and monumentally incapable of thinking outside the box. Example: My principal wouldn't let my senior class have the theme from "Cheers" as the class song for fear that it would glorify drinking. (Yes, true story.) As often as not, this tool will end up being used to justify/reify such baseless and capricious acts by administrators. So much of one's success or failure in high school (at least, on the books) already depends on whether the administration/faculty like you or not - I'm sure that one questionable tip on the WAVE line will provide the justification for many an administrator to crucify a good, but disliked, kid.

    It sends the wrong message about interpersonal trust and loyalty. Under the WAVE program, authority figures implicitly tell kids that betraying a friend commands a price as cheap as a cheesy baseball cap/t-shirt.

    It will be abused. If another group of students doesn't like you, WAVE puts you in danger of being falsely ratted out, without any accountability from the reporting party.

    Yeah, there are plenty of holes in my arguments, but I'm a little pissed off right now. Okay, back to work.

  • by zztzed (279) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:09AM (#1152110)
    I hope this has a favorable outcome... but for the love of <deity>, Jon, PLEASE DON'T USE THE TERM "GEEK PROFILING" WHEN YOU'RE TALKING TO THEM.

    --
  • by ForteBravo (15741) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @12:23PM (#1152111) Homepage
    Treat children as children and you will get childish behavior. Treat them as adults and most of the time, you will be pleasantly rewarded. Give them the same rights, responsibilities, and protections, and we can guarantee schoolyard violence will be virtually wiped out.

    However, the Pinkerton decision-makers have to realize that children live very different lives from the rest of us. In real life, legal protection is subordinate to common practice. Thus, a middle school student who is verbally or physically abused by peers is, by the laws of the schoolyard that prevail, not entitled to any protection from teachers, police, or the court system.

    Now, this snippet of argument might lead one to think that I support the idea of adding the authority of a third (private, disinterested) party into the Schoolyard Corpus of Law.

    But I do not. At least, I do not support Pinkerton's current version of the law. I think Pinkerton has been seduced by sunny blond girls and boys* linking hands, praying, weeping, singing songs about the violence in schools, vowing to fight intolerance and embrace all students. But the reality is this:

    While the popular boys and girls may feel a grain of love and tolerance for their fellow students in the face of monstrous crimes, they fall, soon enough, into their old patterns, which range from simple exclusion by these sunny blond people to the commission of absolute atrocities against the rest of the schoolyard.

    Haven't you wondered why you only ever saw cheerleaders linking hands with other cheerleaders in these media pictures? It's because the goths, geeks, and nerds know that the above italicised paragraph is a truism that cannot be affected by any number of Anti-Violence Singalongs. Diversity in the workplace has no analog in schools.

    So, what is the solution? W.A.V.E. America is not the solution, in its current form. Here is a list of my concerns about this program.

    1. In one breath, the Pinkerton site speaks of "responsibility", and in the next, allows children to duck responsibility by calling anonymous tips in on their fellow students.
      • Pro: If there were a danger to the student of being injured somehow if their name was released in conjunction with an investigation into a fellow student, then anonymity protects them.
      • Con: The right to know and face one's accuser is critical! The accuser's right to safety does not outweigh the rights of the accused. This has been proven over and over in our system of justice. If the student who calls the W.A.V.E. line believes they are in danger, then they are entitled to protection, not anonymity. Pinkerton probably has a division that could protect them (you know, razor for free, charge for the blades and all that). Students need to call the police, not W.A.V.E., if they are in so much danger that they cannot give their name.
    2. What happens as the result of a call? A report is sent to school administrators. The school then has the responsibility to act on all tips -- anonymous or otherwise.
      • Pro: At least we don't have a corporation deciding which kids are troublemakers and which kids are being unfairly reported. Theoretically, the school administrators should be informed enough to gauge the difference and act fairly.
      • Con: Yeah right. W.A.V.E. strengthens the status quo by putting the power right back in the hands of the people that enforce a pecking order. What will the school do if a goth calls in and reports that the quarterback has been leaving dead animals in her locker again? Same as always - nothing at all, because school administrators virtually never act against the interests of the powerful or the popular**. When the opposite occurs, and the quarterback's girlfriend calls in to say the goth is threatening to blow away the football team, all hell will break loose. Maybe Pinkerton should be given a mandate to protect the innocent, even the freaky. (Yes I know -- it would be against every mandate in this country to hand over power/justice to a company whose responsibility is to make money. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The Pinkerton officials just need to be aware that a corporation absolutely cannot maximize profits and justice at the same time.)
    3. Resolve, Respect, and Responsibility***. You mean, as defined by Pinkerton. Or as defined by your teachers. Or as defined by your local police. You probably don't mean, as defined by yourself, after much critical thinking and reading. For example:
      • Responsibility in the context of W.A.V.E. probably includes upholding the law of the land without ever questioning its fitness or justice.
      • Resolve means that when someone makes fun of your breasts, you tell an adult, preferably someone in charge like an administrator. When the administrator does nothing, you call W.A.V.E., who sends a report to the administrator. What do you do after that? *shrug* Beats me. Besides, W.A.V.E. might not even take your call if all you have to report is a silly little bit of sexual harassment.
      • Respect means knowing where you stand in the school hierarchy, and not stepping out of line in your daily interactions with other students. It probably doesn't mean demanding that 17 year old felons be put in jail regardless of their athletic scholarship.

    There is just so much more I could address. If there'd been more notice, I would have asked Pinkerton if I could fly out as well. For instance, the mission statement that states that they are dedicated to "tomorrow's workforce" implies exclusion on their part -- poets and beatniks be damned, we're just protecting the future cubicle occupiers because as a company it would be irresponsible of us to protect anything beyond our own interests.

    Anyway...to anyone that has read this far...thanks for listening to my admittedly long opinion on this matter!!

    -- Amanda

    *I bear no responsibility for the Aryan resemblance to Hitler youth. Associating violent jock gangs with Hitler youth might be valid, but it's still cheap and self-serving.
    ** Dissecting Columbine's Cult of the Athlete [washingtonpost.com]
    ***From the Pinkerton site [waveamerica.com]

    ----------

  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc@yaGI ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:39AM (#1152112) Homepage
    I'm sitting here at my workstation with my jaw somewhere just above my shoelaces, hoping that maybe all of the comments posted by members of the /. community might have actually made a difference before a corporation does something that ends up being anti-freedom instead of after. My thought is that Pinkerton deserves at least one kudo for listening, and a whole lot more if they follow through with effective changes and/or dismantling parts of the program altogether.

    That said, here's my list of thoughts, then a list of questions.

    Thoughts:
    1. Offering a T-Shirt to a young person isn't necessarily bad --but not as an incentive to "turn someone in". If I were a student, I'd much rather get a T-Shirt for participating in a program in which I learned how to reach out to a a depressed or disaffected person, rather than rat-finking on somebody I didn't even really understand.
    2. An anonymous toll free number is good. Now then, make it a hotline where a depressed student can call and get anonymous help, and it might actually be a force for good, instead of for reporting differences.
    Questions:
    1. The company says it is also already revamping its vague criteria for identifying disturbed or dangerous kids, using specific symptoms recommended by psychiatric organizations.

      Great, now we've got untrained, immature students trying to perform complex psychological evaluations on each other. How does Pinkerton propose to overcome this immaturity and lack of training in students?

    2. Wouldn't a more effective use of web resources be to create sites that offer training in communication techniques, web places where a student can anonymously ask for help?
    3. It suggests the worst kind of Geek Profiling, in the process wantonly violating constitutional protections against unwarranted intrusions, search and seizure.

      How does Pinkerton propose to implement WAVE without violating these constitutional rights?

    4. Under what criteria would an individual be added to a company database, and how long would they remain in the records?
    5. Would records be made available to law enforcement agencies without a search warrant?
    6. Finally, what guarantees are there in place that any information in these databases can never be exposed to outside parties?
    Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for safe schools, etc. But students reporting on each other is the wrong use of resources. I'm all for a WAVE program that teaches inclusion, not reporting of exclusions.
  • by Rantage (96467) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:31AM (#1152113) Homepage
    Are listed here [waveamerica.com]. I was amused to note the duplication of "Has unlawful possession and use of firearms.". I guess that's thrown in there twice for the kids with poor reading comprehension. :)

    More disturbing was "Conveys violence in writings and/or drawings." Lot of room there. I guess kids shouldn't draw battles or scenes from their favorite movies; God knows what will be reported about them.

    While still capable of being misinterpreted, I think the Imminent Warning Signs [waveamerica.com] they list are a bit more on-target.

    Totally worthless, IMHO, is the Why Call The WAVE Line [waveamerica.com] page and it's purpose. It urges newly-hatched WAVE drones to call the line if they wish to anonymously report drug/alcohol abuse, vandalism and suicide threats -- valid cases I suppose -- along with aggressive behavior, harassment, intolerant attitudes and "Anything Else Harmful to You or Your School".

    Gee, could I call the WAVE line to report that WAVE is harmful to me and my school?

    Any of you high-school gratuates out there remember not experiencing some kind of agressive behavior, harassment or intolerant atttudes during those years?

    I'm so damn glad my school days are long past; high school was stressful enough without worrying about the Stasi looking over my shoulder every minute.
    Online gaming for motivated, sportsmanlike players: www.steelmaelstrom.org [steelmaelstrom.org].

  • by davew (820) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:31AM (#1152114) Homepage Journal

    Jon,

    I'd really appreciate if you could ask the WAVE people how they plan to deal with its potential as a tool for bullying.

    WAVE strikes me as an easy, anonymous and rewarding ($$$, t-shirts) way to cause instant grief to a fellow pupil. Kids who are willing to break a kid's bicycle lights, ostracise her in the yard, or embarrass them in the classroom on a permanent basis, will have no qualms about abusing this company's tool to get anyone quiet or different into trouble.

    Now what I suspect is that, further to the above, the company's mechanisms will not be sufficient to catch such abuse.

    Remember Independence Day? Remember the drunkard pilot who dusted the wrong field? Remember the TV interview with his "friends" who said, "Nice guy. Harmless guy. But the aliens abused him. Sexually."

    Picture this now: an anonymous tip is received, "this guy's trouble". The class is identified. Now I don't know what WAVE's procedures are, but I reckon they're not going to just use a single anonymous tip-off before hauling in the kid, right? Surely they'll interview other kids first to make sure it's not just a grudge thing?

    In a class of thirty, you will get twenty-four people who say "Dunno. He's quiet all the time. Noone seems to like him." and five who, for the laugh, will make up half-truths for the interviewer to make the kid seem as disturbed as possible.

    Interviewer files his report, which is processed and added to the statistics database that will be presented to customers at the end of the year saying "we dealt with 100,000 potentially distressed students this year".

    It's easy to see the individual elements of WAVE as pretty harmless in themselves. But taken together:

    • Profit-making institution
    • Anonymous reporting
    • Rewards of cash and clothing
    • Profit-making institution (this is what bothers me most, can you guess?)

    ...they'd seem to be the ingredients for a positive-feedback abuse loop. How can the WAVE people ensure that that never happens, please?

    Dave

    --

  • by VAXGeek (3443) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:06AM (#1152115) Homepage
    I'd like to turn in some of the kids from my school's computer club. They are always talking about "eunuchs". They walk around saying such things as 'awk' and 'grep'. They show signs of alcoholism by saying such things as "free as in beer", and appear to worship some kind of daemon. If this isn't malicious, anti-social behavior, I don't know what is.
    ------------
    a funny comment: 1 karma
    an insightful comment: 1 karma
    a good old-fashioned flame: priceless
  • I second Signail11's question. I have another question: do you realize that in Europe a plan such as yours would raise much concern, so much as to throw hundreds of thousands of protesters in the street? Do you realize that anonymously denouncing people has been only used by the harshest dictatorships in this century? Do KGB, Stasi, Gestapo and Sekuritat ring a bell to you? Ever heard of the concept of yellow star?

    As for the marketing angle to your website (and as I understand it, whole program). Do you know that Europeans would never let their kids be exposed to the kind of advertising that's widely used in american schools? Maybe here again that's a reminiscence of dictatorships: I believe the nazis pioneered the use of propaganda towards children.

    Having drawn those parallels, do you share my (our) concerns? If you do, and I hope you do, how come you did'nt think of it before?

  • by Signal 11 (7608) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:20AM (#1152117)
    I'll keep it short and sweet - my middle and high school years were a testament to how bad things can go wrong in public education.

    The root cause of this is remarkably simple: standardized education hits the middle of the bell-curve and ignores, or is actively hostile to, any more than a standard deviation or so out. That is to say public education satisfies it's demands for about 69-78% of the population. For the rest, however, it's living hell.

    Many kids who go through this become depressed, suicidal, despondent, their grades falter, peer relationships become unstable or non-existant.. all the symptoms of a person under high stress. What you are proposing to do will not help these children. All the program will do is associate yet another label to a problem nobody wants to address.

    This background was necessary to give you a framework in which to see where I'm coming from with my question. My question is, why are you punishing these kids for being different?

  • by Sethb (9355) <bokelman@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @10:17AM (#1152118) Homepage
    I think that the Pinkerton program is going about this all wrong, they're not targeting the truly dangerous group of people in America's high schools. This isn't an anti-jock rant or anything, but I feel that the Columbine killers most likely reacted to the abuse put upon them on a constant basis by the other students in their high school. Just think about it for a moment, most kids don't just decide to up and waste their classmates for no good reason, and I think it's time that educators, parents, and law enforcement stopped treating high school conflicts like playground fights.

    I was by no means a jock in high school, but I didn't fit any of these geek stereotypes either. I participated in the Track & Golf teams, as well as Speech, Drama, and Yearbook. I never played a single game of D&D, and we only had Wolf3D, no Doom yet.

    When I look back at some of the bastards who made my day hell, I realize that it is terrifyingly easy to understand how anyone could be driven to depression, suicide, or revenge by the purposefully cruel actions of their classmates. I got slammed against lockers, given "titty twisters" in the locker rooms, kicked, hit, and generally verbally abused as well.

    I'm not trying to tell my story here, I'm sure most of you experienced things that very similar, and I'm sure many of the "jocks" did as well, especially from upperclassmen in the same sports.

    So what do we do about this problem? Blaming the victims will get us nowhere. If you want to create a resource for kids who need help, howabout one where they can go to report the abusive actions of their peers, where school administrators won't tell them to "tough it out" or to "deal with it". I never ONCE felt that any teacher or administrator in my high school would give two craps that Andy Jahnke tried to stuff me in a locker. (He's dead now, head-on car accident, I laughed when I heard that, seriously, maybe there is something to karma.)

    My suggestion, Pinkerton, is howabout not rewarding students for turning people in, but providing a resource for students and administrators about what steps to take to stop these abuses. Students should have someone, several someones in fact, at every school who will be their advocates in these cases. There should be a local police liason with the high school, and these cases should result in charges being filed against the abusers.

    Too often, I feel that these things are viewed as harmless, when the victims are truly physically and emotionally harmed.

    If you leave bruises on a person, it's assault. Period. There should be no suspensions from sports, you're off the team permanently. You do it again, or so-help-me-god retaliate against the person for reporting you, and you're expelled, as well as violating your probation.

    There need to be real consequences for those who abuse their fellow students. Not 15 laps, not detention. If I walked into my co-workers office and slugged him in the stomach, would my boss make me work late? No, I'd be charged and sentenced by the legal system, and fired from my job.

    Why is this not similar if I'm a senior in high school? Why do those being abused not report the cases of abuse to the police and/or school administrators? Why do we as a society view it as less-severe if the participants in these forms of violence are still in high school?
    ---
  • by chromatic (9471) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:19AM (#1152119) Homepage

    I find it ironic that there are so many young people who are confused and hurting, who really need just one or two good adult role models to sit down with them and listen to them for a while...

    ... and those adults will hear some painful and confused feelings of isolation and loneliness and despair...

    ... and brand these kids as possible menaces to society.

    When I was a teenager, I didn't want people to listen to me because they might be afraid of what I might do. I wanted people to listen to me because they cared about me and could identify with the way I was feeling and the thoughts I was thinking.

    Don't alienate young people even further in the guise of helping them. Please.

    --

  • by orpheus (14534) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @08:26AM (#1152120)
    If you want to stop WAVE dead in its tracks, ask them what responsibility they are willing to take for the various aspects of their program (use the words "legal liability")

    They cannot rely on the "open conduit" principle used by ISPs because they specifically stated that the 'kids will be trained' in the danger signs to recognize. As Governor Hunt noted, "This program is more than just a tip line, it teaches students and parents to look for the early signs of violent behavior and to resolve conflicts constructively."

    Training children does not automatically induce liability (if it did, few would dare teach anyone anything out of fear that the student might not learn well or might deliberately misuse the knowledge), but the possibility clearly exists

    I hate the fact that we live in a litigious society, but note that my examples (below) are just issues of responsibility. Corporations are not people (except in the eyes of the law) so the legal system stands in lieu of many of the elements of societal conditioning and 'conscience' that individuals are expected to have

    The WAVE training and hotline will be the equivalent of showing a few Driver's Ed videos in assembly, leaving a Pinkerton car in the parking lot with the keys in the ignition, and telling the kids "it's for you to use only in serious situations."

    If anything goes wrong, there will be two or more "innocent" minors involved, a 'beleagered' school, and a Big Corporation. And perhaps third party victims as well. Whatever the details of the case, no lawyer could overlook the deep pockets of the corporation.

    There are a hundred issues of access/liability in such an unreliable database: Will they relay all tips blindly? Will they accept responsibility for those they choose to relay? Those that they choose NOT to relay? Will they keep all tips confidential (hiding them from potential victims)? Or does the public have 'a right to know'? Will the info be available freely to law enforcement or only under specific subpoena? Will the 'subject' be told of the detailss of the tip made against him/her? Or will it ne an undefendable slur?

    What are the specific criteria for reportable actions? Example: drugs, yes -- but casual use or dealing; and what type of drugs? Tobacco? Alcohol? Only 'illegal' drugs? Oops, sorry, both butts and beers are illegal in this group, and being drunk poses the same dangers as being high when it comes to both violence and lethally poor judgement (e.g. throwing rock off the water tower onto the school yard)

    What about pornography? Allegations of danger signs or situations inside the family (physical or sexual abuse -- gee, I guess even the parents aren't safe, after all)? Depression? Sexual activity? Religious beliefs? Political beliefs? (Look out Satanists and neo-Nazis... but also, wiccans, politically active Arab refugees, etc. it doesn't take much to be labeled a potential terrorist or 'cult')

    Oh yeah, I'm waiting for Crosstown High's entire football team to be hauled in for questioning the week before the state finals... on a series of tips from Riverdale High. A rumor of last week's kegger is one thing, but with an outside company making the report, the pricipal doesn't dare risk one of the kids getting in a drunk driving accident next month.)

    Oh I'm sorry, is this a downer? Is this getting awfully complicated when all you wanted to do was stamp out DOOM players, kids who wear black, freshman whose AP Chemistry scores suggest "more than adequate knowledge to make a bomb" (it happened to me, and the shadow followed me through HS. Funny thing - a senior with the same knowledge would be applauded)

    Lord help them if they decide 'on a case-by-case basis'. That's pretty much full liability.

    In short. THEY design a system. THEY implement it. THEY are going to have a tough time if something goes wrong. And it WILL, perhaps not because of them, but nonetheless their nose will be inextricably stuck into a situation fraught with inherent perils... with a plan that's untested and has had relatively few man-months of thought. (something with this kind of impact needs tens or hundreds of thousands of man-months of debate -- e.g. a public referendum on the ballot)

    __________

  • by Jurph (16396) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @10:22AM (#1152121)
    ...and I'll give you a T-Shirt.

    Athlete-worship and America's anti-intellectualism (whichever caused the other) are both to blame for the "socially acceptable" violence that occurs as the alpha males haze the underlings. The problem is that even in chimp research, every once in a long long while, the underling surprises the alpha male and kills him. Doesn't just rub his nose in shit, doesn't just throw him out of a tree... kills him. And then the whole family of chimps, enamored with their alpha male, ostracize the chimp who did it.

    WAVE might give the nerds a chance to rat out the jocks (but who would wear a shirt that says, "I'm a Narc, guys!" to school?), but no matter what 20/20 hindsight they have, and no matter what they told the interviewers, the jocks never saw Columbine coming. Let me say that again:

    THEY NEVER SAW IT COMING.

    Any jock who beats up geeks knows that he's not as smart as they are. Bullying stems from insecurity. A bully who picks on a pensive geek is asking to be taken by surprise, in a devious, well-thought-out plan, that allows no revenge.

    SO: we need to save these Darwin candidates from themselves. Turn them in, take the cash, buy hardware, and stay smart. The more bullies we stop young, the less we have to kill.

    In short, WAVE won't ever find the dangerous geeks, but if its creators are smart, WAVE can be used to stop all of the violence.
  • by spankenstein (35130) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:20AM (#1152122) Homepage

    Is this what people think is actually the solution? I am amazed by america everyday.

    Can kids not go to their parents anymore? I came from a severly broken home, but I could almost always go to one of my parents with a problem. I have a 10 month old daughter. I hope that she can come to me when she is older.

    Personally I don't see kids getting worse, on the contrary I see less violence than when I was in High School 3 years ago. My younger siste is a junior and has had progressivley less problems and talks about progressively fewer fights every year.

    I think the major problem that we are facing is completely irresposible media. Sure, Columbine was news worthy, but it was NOT a commentary on America's youth. It's not a commentary on the Internet, it's not a commentary on Games.

    I know many people that spend hours per day on the net, play quake, listen to heavy music and wear dark clothing that are as happy as humanly possible. They are just enjoying life. At work we played a Q3A deathmatch last night. I didn't go kill anyone, i didn't even harm animals as I ate my vegetarian dinner. So i listened to some punk rock and went to sleep.

    This morning I woke up and was at my job at 7:30 a.m., about an hour and a half early. I didn't kill anyone. I have no real anger in my body right now and I've been on the net all morning.

    In high school i would have been a prime target for this. I was a depressed, insomniac, geek/musician that had multi-colored hair in multiple spiky arrangements and a skateboard and a really bad attitude about life. I never went over the edge. But being persecuted like this could have easily pushed the wrong buttons.

  • by gonzocanuck (44989) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:18AM (#1152123) Homepage
    1.Why is the website privacy policy so lax? Nabisco's Candystand has more rules than this! It would never fly with Truste (not that *that's* saying much)


    2.Why not offer a help line for depressed kids rather than a snitch line? Canada has had the Kids' Help Phone for about 10 years now and it is wildly popular and successful, as well as ANONYMOUS


    3.Rewarding kids is nothing new, but doesn't WAVE take corporate sponsorship to a new level? It's bad enough that there is so much advertising in schools, and I feel kids today are just being groomed to consume and consume since they day they're able to point "I want that".


    4.One of my favourite authors once wrote about the indecency of being made to pee in a bottle "with the results potentially ruining your life forever" or something to that effect...is WAVE more interested in ruining lives or actually helping them?

  • by goliard (46585) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @09:31AM (#1152124)

    FYI, I had an acquaintance who decided to get a mutual classmate in serious trouble; he enlisted my aid, and the aid of a number of other kids likely to be considered "reliable witnesses" by the teachers, and the complicity of a bigger kid for "backup". Then he got the majority of the class to help him provoke a fight with the target; the bigger kid stepped in a saved his butt from being kicked. When the principle was called in, all the witnesses were already lined up. We got the kid detention for a week.

    Just so you know.
    ----------------------------------------------

  • by goliard (46585) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @09:50AM (#1152125)

    Two things, Jon:

    (1) Sure, read it to the CEO. But you do realize that Pinkerton is exploiting this political stunt? That if they don't sell this or some other "defensive" product (they aren't in a position to sell therapy or other remedy to personal problems, only defense of the school), they have no business interest at all?

    (2) The thing which most pisses me off about this entire thing, having gone to read their web site, is that they're selling to the schools and parents the myth of students that they want to hear: that it's all the kids' fault. In particular, they have all this nonsense about getting students to take the threat of violence seriously. I assure you, the kids take the threat of violence seriously! That's why most kids bring knives and guns to school in the first place! That's why teasing is so threatening and traumatic -- it's not because your feelings have been hurt, but because you don't know how far or fast the situation will escalate.

    The FACT is that it is the teachers and administrators who don't take the threat of violence seriously. They're the ones who turn a blind eye ("kids will be kids") right up to the moment one kid blows another's brains out.

    That Pinkerton could so venally cater to the self-serving, responsibility-absolving fantasies of school administrators that it's really all the kids' fault for not taking violence seriously, or not "walking away from fights" is sick and evil.

    But, theres's no business in selling schools a product which shows them their deficiencies, or seats responsibility in the school staff. Who will buy a product or service which tells them that they allow violence to be perpetrated against children? Much more emotionally safe to buy a product which puts the responsibility onto the victims themselves.
    ----------------------------------------------

  • by ronfar (52216) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @09:05AM (#1152126) Journal
    Actually, that isn't true, The Washington Post ran this story:

    Dissecti ng Columbine's Cult of the Athlete [washingtonpost.com]

    Which is a fairly good analysis of the fact that the administration at Columbine seemed to tolerate and encourage violence among the students. (Especially the ones who were involved in athletics.). It's basically a serious version of the Onion story.

    Incidentally, I don't think that the Columbine murderers were geeks, really. I think that a good portion of the media/political establishment decided to label them as such because it serves their agenda. For instance, geeks are always complaining about things like the DMCA and they know more about computers than members of Congress. Not surprising that the government favors the image of geeks as dangerous social outcasts with scores to settle. They did the same thing with hippies after the Manson murders. It seems like the two murderers got some of the same lenient treatment from the school as some of the athletes, if the Washington Post story is to be believed.

    For example, in the story referenced above in this post, it is noted that the two Columbine murderers had committed felony burglary before they went on their killing spree, which would seem to be more germain than the fact that they modded levels for Doom. Most people, however, only ever hear about Doom. Also, Columbine isn't the only one of these attacks, how come Jonesborough is never mentioned? Could it be that the details of the Jonesborough incident don't fit a useful profile? In fact, I pretty sure that a careful analysis of Jonesborough wouldn't yield it as a "geeks vs. jocks" situation at all.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @08:39AM (#1152127) Journal
    I don't know what the Pinkertons' current set of criteria are. But some of the other schemes that were bandied about after Columbine involved scoring systems that penalized the targeted individual for things like presence of guns in the house and experience with guns.

    Approximately half of the households in the United States have one or more gun present. A large fraction of those households - probably the majority - are populated by members of one of the factions of the American Pluralist culture.

    These people train their children in proper gun handling at an early age. They are generally gifted with a gun, as well, typically when the parents or guardians determine that they have demonstrated by their behavior that they are responsible to handle it, or at the first birthday thereafter. This may happen as early as age 12 (though the gun will be stored safely, and the child will lose access to it if he demonstrates irresponsibility later).

    The criminal and violent activity of children who have been trained with guns by responsible adults has been studied, and compared with that of those who have not been so trained. It turns out that the overall delinquency rates of the two groups are about the same. But when you look at the TYPES of misbehavior, the difference is drastic.

    While the kids not trained with guns are out selling drugs, mugging, and robbing liquor stores, the kids trained with guns are out after curfew, or smoking in the boy's room. Even when kids trained with guns become involved with local youth gangs or commit assaults (which they do much less frequently than those not so trained), there is a conspicuous difference: They don't use a gun in the assault.

    And if you look at the perpetrators of the various highly-publicised school shootings, you'll see a significant fact that the press has missed: Virtually all of the perpetrators came from families that were strongly anti-gun. At least one was the child of a prominent activist in the anti-gun movement.

    So I share with the rest of the posters the concern about labeling of intelligent tech-savvy kids who hang out with others of their kind, don't participate in sports, and are already the butt of the jocks' and authority figures' harrassment. And I share the concern about the use of such turn-in programs by the little psycopaths prevalent in schools to further harrass anyone who doesn't knuckle under to them or who reports THEIR misbehavior, to obtain gifts off the system, or to hassle people at random just for giggles. But I have an additional worry.

    I'm concerned that the Pinkertons will become involved in the current culture war. I'm concerned that this tool will be used to stigmatize children who have the misfortune to be born into a household that is a member of one of a set of well-integrated, peaceful, social traditions that predates the American Revolution.

    And I'm concerned that this will further the attempts at the eradication of those cultural groups.
  • by technos (73414) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @08:06AM (#1152128) Homepage Journal
    I am a geek. A flaming geek. The kind of geek that inspired both fear from the mentally deficient and awe from the intelligent.

    But even given the strictest 'psych-inspired' guidelines, I would have been locked away in a WAVE-sponsored rubber-room. I spent quite a few years studying 'profiling', and the underlying psychology as part of degrees in criminal justice and forensics. At the time, we were introduced to a study that had come out of the Ohio Department of Youth Services. According to their risk assessment criteria for juvenile offenders (which looks strangly enough like your WAVE criteria) I would have been locked away in a maximum security juvenile facility, drugged with antidepressants, and forced to undergo extensive counselling had I done anything as wrong as being ticketed for spitting on the sidewalk in Dayton.

    And what had I done to deserve this dangerous classification? I was introverted, had an IQ of 160+, made vague verbal intimations of violence toward others ('get out of my face, jock, or I'll make sure you're the first one dead when the Revolution comes') and was more interested in frobbing ten-year old computer equipment than frobbing sixteen-year old girls.

    'I must have been ill.' Bull. You stick yourself in a room full of mental vegetables and see how long it takes you to become depressed and angry. Try to sit through two years of high school after graduating college. Same feeling.

    And what became of me? Well, I finished two degrees, and am on the 'fast-track' at a major company. I am well-adjusted, moral, and probably finished ahead of 90% of you 'WAVE-approved' sheep. The last generation of my family was almost locked up in a rubber room at Pleasant Ridge during the wave of profiling in the early sixties, for much the same reasons Ohio would have had me locked up. One is a lawyer, one is on her second doctorate, and the last is a published author and noted engineer. We are collectivly the cream of society. If your system would have us locked up as 'deviant', it needs to be rethought.
  • by spiralx (97066) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:58AM (#1152129)

    I was wondering what kind of checks and balances you would be applying to this system? Surely you must have considered the issues behind this beforehand and must have some kind of idea about how to separate the potentially dangerous from the depressed or prank victim. Given that the point of this is that fellow students are in a better position to notice behavioural problems, how do you as outsiders determine the validity of an anonymous call?

    Given that Americans pride themselves on the various checks and balances inherent in the Constitution, I am curious to know how this system will be balanced. I believe that the underlying idea has some merit - after all fellow students are the most likely to notice problems at an age where parents generally aren't confided in - but in its current incarnation it seems it will simply lead to a deluge of pranks, hoaxes and wrong diagnoses. The flood of names supplied to WAVE may seem to validate its purpose, but in reality what is the use of this system in every teenager in America is on their lists?

  • by SnugBoy (147765) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:20AM (#1152130)
    How about offering teens some money to turn in jocks/popular kids that harras the kids that do not fit the "social norm". I would say that occurances of these rulling class students beating on/harrasing others BY FAR outwieghs the few random times that so called outcasts are pushed to the point of violence. If anything should be done, the people who are at the core of all this (the bullies) should be screened and not the victims
  • by Hotaine (148044) on Tuesday April 04, 2000 @07:47AM (#1152131)
    Shhhhh! He only THINKS he's going there for a meeting. I actually called and turned him in. Got this nifty baseball cap...
  • And more to the point, what kind of indemnety is Pinkerton willing to pay for false positives? Say, US$100,000 for each attempted suicide and US$1,000,000 for each successful suicide of any otherwise harmless geek? US$10,000 for each kid that gets beat up as a result of being turned in?

    C'mon, Pinkerton -- if you're not willing to put your money where your mouth is, you're just another bunch of snake oil salesmen, trying to suck up to the public trough. Clever racket -- school shootings are so rare that nobody can really tell if your system works. *You* don't care if you ruin a few thousand lives, as long as you get the dough.

    If you aren't willing to pay indemnities, then you don't believe in your own system. If you don't believe in it, why should anyone else?

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake

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