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The Path To Violence

Airs Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

The inside of a locker containing drawings of guns (re-enactment).

Credit: Courtesy of Alex Jouve

Above: The inside of a locker containing drawings of guns (re-enactment).

The story of a Utah high-school student who took action after receiving disturbing texts messages and likely averted a Columbine-style attack at her school is one of several stories about violence prevention that anchors "The Path To Violence," a new documentary that airs February 20, 2013, as part of the “After Newtown” initiative – a series of specials airing February 18-22 on PBS. This program is narrated by Sam Waterston.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Brian Baade

Megan Werhman, former Roy High School student, petting horses at her home in Utah.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Brian Baade

SRO Tom Tomlinson, Roy police officer, being interviewed at Roy High School.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Brian Baade

Gina Butters, Roy High School principal, outside Roy High School.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Stephen Harrison

Gene Deisinger, Director of Threat Management, on the phone in his office at Virginia Tech.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Meredith Nutting

Dr. Rita Bishop, superintendent of Roanoke City Schools, being interviewed in the library of Roanoke Catholic School.

Megan Wehrman of Roy, Utah is not the only student who has come forward recently to report possible threats to her school, and to the police, who were able to thwart the attack.

"The Path To Violence" brings to light that in the last 10 years more than 120 violent school attacks have been stopped as a result of a concerted effort by psychologists, school officials and law enforcement officers to change the climate of schools.

“The documentary brings the conversation of balancing school safety with civil liberties to the forefront of viewers’ minds,” said Jason Williams, executive producer. “We’re pleased to be a part of PBS’ ‘After Newtown’ initiative, and applaud this desire to look closely at the issues.”

After the Columbine tragedy, the U.S. Department of Education joined with the U.S. Secret Service to study school shooters. Their review of 37 violent incidents and interviews with 10 shooters, produced a landmark study, called “The Safe School Initiative.”

The study revealed that in about 80 percent of the shooting incidents, the attackers let others know about their plans in advance, and yet no one told an adult. Secret Service investigators say shooters told them they wish somebody had told an adult.

"The Path To Violence" interviews leaders in the field of threat assessment, including those on college campuses who describe interventions that have averted attacks and tackles the issues of where society should draw the line between individual rights and the safety of the public.

From the rights of gun owners to the rights of the mentally ill, and from high-tech security products to the real choices faced by cash-strapped schools, the film weighs all the options of how to keep our children's schools secure. And it doesn’t stop at the school gates.

"The Path To Violence" is part of PBS’ “After Newtown” initiative, a series of documentaries, news reports and public affairs programs that provides thought-provoking context to the national conversation about gun violence in America.

PBS has brought together its science, documentary and public affairs programs to provide in-depth reporting on the myriad issues related to gun violence, including gun laws, mental health support and availability, and school safety.

"The Path To Violence" is produced for PBS by JWM Productions, LLC.

Preview: The Path To Violence

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Watch The Path to Violence - Preview on PBS. See more from After Newtown.

Learn what can be done to detect problem behavior and prevent violent attacks with "The Path To Violence." Premieres Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 10 p.m. ET, as part of "After Newtown" special programming. Explore more at

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