OGDEN -- Do you want to stop school violence like the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado?
Metal detectors. Dress codes. Targeting troubled teenagers.Answers to the problem?
No, says one expert who has studied more than 300 cases of kids who kill.
Paul Mones warned an audience at Weber State University that the nation is focusing on the wrong solutions to prevent the type of slaughter that happened on April 20 in Littleton, Colo.
Metal detectors in schools, he predicted, would make matters worse.
"If they want to kill they will commit the homicide. They are kids. If you give them the challenge, they will come."
Mones, an Oregon-based attorney who has appeared on "60 Minutes" and "20-20," has worked on hundreds of cases of kids who kill, from Saudi Arabia to Ireland.
As one of the keynote speakers at the 12th annual conference on Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Prevention at Weber State, he said Wednesday that the majority of kids grow up to be killers because of what goes on in their homes.
It is an ugly fact that most people don't want to admit.
"Adults see kids brutalized when they are young, do nothing, and when these kids commit homicides, they throw their hands up and say, 'Why oh why does this happen?' "
Millions of children are abused across the country every year. National studies estimate that child homicide is as much as 300 percent underestimated because authorities never really determine what happened. Yet, child abuse, he said, lags behind crime-fighting priorities like drug addiction and gang violence.
"These cases are the poor stepchildren of the criminal justice system," he said.
Mones said both prosecutors and defense attorneys are inexperienced and most judges are reluctant to take on juvenile court assignments or family court.
"Poor little Johnny is being beaten with an electrical cord and we say these poor little children, but God forbid these kids survive the years of brutality visited upon them and become 14 or 15. We don't want to hear it."
But the reason is real, Mones said, asserting that as many as 70 percent of children who commit violent acts have learned it in their own home by watching the relationship between the adults.
"We need to take our heads out of the 19th century, which is where we are now."
Mones said domestic violence teaches kids to equate violence with love and violence with power and they learn violence is an acceptable way to solve problems.
Mom lies about the bruise on her cheek to her friends. They quietly accept the abuse.
"Things get seemingly better, so mother's fear becomes normal. It becomes part of life. Father's violence becomes normal. It is part of life," he said.
This code of silence is a myth.
"For a kid, they see the condoning of it and nobody seems to do anything about it."
The involvement of weapons makes it worse. In 1994, in California police responded to 88,000 cases of domestic violence where guns were used. Mones said he figured Utah is statistically on the same level.
Children see the man put a gun on the table for intimidation and in extreme circumstances he puts the muzzle in the woman's mouth.
"A lot of gunplay is symbolic. Often the power of the gun is not in the firing, but in the possession. Boys see this kind of power in their home."
Of course, the nation tends to focus on violence in the media and broken homes as factors that lead to children who kill. The focus is wrong, Mones said.
Many children who kill come from single-parent households, but just as many come from two-parent families, he said.
Restricting access to racy R-rated movies and revising dress codes to prevent gang attire is like plugging a finger in a dike, he warned.
"There are those who tell you it is the media. I tell you it is easier to talk about somebody else than it is yourselves. When you have between 2.2 million and 2.5 million cases of child abuse reported and 6,700 child homicides, who needs the V-Chip, parents or kids?"
It is a quick answer to blame clothes and movies, but the wrong answer to a disturbing problem, he said.
"Maybe we can all supposedly sleep better, but it is not the solution."