School safety relies on assessing internal threats

When a threat is identified, information should be gathered from parents
By: | February 14, 2019
To boost school safety, administrators should know how to identify students who express intent to harm themselves or act out violently.To boost school safety, administrators should know how to identify students who express intent to harm themselves or act out violently.

In some districts, school safety relies on threat assessments that allow educators to intervene and ward off emergencies. That’s how leaders at Great Oaks Career Campuses in Ohio approach the risk of active shooters, says Alvin Gille, the district’s health, safety and security coordinator.

“Develop intervention teams and talk to local school resource officers about what kids are doing in the neighborhood,” Gille says. “You get a broader look at a student in crisis so that they don’t become a villain and a perpetrator.”

School safety strategies

To prevent such violence, leaders should establish procedures for identifying students who express intent to harm themselves or act out violently against others, says Cathy Pane, crisis response team lead for the National Association of School Psychologists.

A school safety intervention team should comprise a school administrator, psychologist or counselor, school resource officer, and a teacher who knows the student. The team can help uncover the source of a troubled child’s emotions.

When a school safety threat is identified, information should also be gathered from the parents or guardians, Pane says. Thoroughly investigating to determine a threat’s seriousness can further inform the intervention plans. This protects potential victims also addresses any underlying conflict, she adds.

“Make sure that a team and system is in place when there is a concern about a student,” Pane says. “Quite a number of shootings have been prevented because a risk assessment procedure was in place.”


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