Not to be confused with Physical Threat Assessments, the recently released guidance (7.13.18) from the National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC), a division of the Secret Service, covers behavioral intervention systems and techniques as operational guidelines for school safety in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the May 18, 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. The publication is titled Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model: An Operational Guide for Preventing Targeted School Violence.Counter Threat Group, LLC., has been an advocate for implementing systems for the purpose of detecting behavioral issues as well as Comprehensive (Physical) Threat Assessments that may ultimately thwart violent events in any setting. As this introductory guidance suggests, behavioral intervention is an interdisciplinary TEAM approach to reducing the violent issues in our school systems.
The NTAC has been involved in school safety research for over 20 years dating back to the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
We quote the most disturbing information in the guidance. “Following the tragedy at Columbine High School in April 1999, the Secret Service partnered with the Department of Education on a study that examined 37 incidents of targeted violence that occurred at elementary and secondary schools (i.e., K-12). The goal of that study, the Safe School Initiative (SSI), was to gather and analyze accurate and useful information about the thinking and behavior of students who commit these types of acts. The findings of the SSI, and an accompanying guide, served as the impetus for establishing threat assessment programs in schools. In 2008, the agencies collaborated again and released a report that further explored one of the key SSI findings, namely, that prior to most attacks, though other students had information about the attackers’ plans, most did not report their concerns to an adult”. This behavior continues today in almost every classification of mass shootings. Intervention is basically taboo.
Another disturbing aspect of these guidelines is the DHS has been active in educating school districts, administrators and school personnel for years and training to prevent violent incidents in school systems. Some school systems and local governments have worked together and have reacted responsibly to address the issues of school safety. Inaction by others have effectively caused a risk(y) decision to defer until they are faced with the reality of a mass casualty event in their school system.
We provide this information to you to disseminate as you deem useful. Use it for your personal edification, pass it along to your educators in your community, or hold your elected officials accountable for their responsibility to keep the children in our schools safe. Don’t assume this information is shared, common knowledge or being implemented.
Regardless of the stake you may hold, school safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Photo Credit: Rick Klepper