1. Teach students and adults to report warning signs
- Threats to the target or others, and an intent to attack, including on social media
- Harassing others
- Intense or escalating anger
- Interest in weapons or violence
- Changes in behavior or appearance
- Sadness, depression or isolation
- Talk of suicide or self-harm
- Complaints of being bullied
- Worries over grades or attendance
2. Create, Publicize and use 24-hour anonymous tip lines for people to safely report their concerns
3. Conduct Behavioral Threat Assessment of concerning situations
When people report concerns about someone’s negative or threatening behavior, a dedicated team of school administrators, law enforcement and mental health professionals should evaluate the information and work together creating a plan to support and monitor the concerning person’s actions, behavior and communications. A best practice for conducting a behavioral threat assessment is for a team from diverse professional backgrounds to analyze the concerning situation, determine whether the student poses a genuine threat and decide on the safest course of action for everyone involved. The team should also seek to understand the impetus for the would-be perpetrator’s concerning behavior: (e.g., a specific grievance, psychological trauma or mental health issue) to better assess and manage the potential threat.
It’s important to remember that being prepared in the case of potential gun violence in schools is critical. These strategies can help school administrators handle concerning situations before they escalate and avoid violence altogether.
This article was written by our Workforce Risk Management Team. For additional resources and information, please reach out to email@example.com.
1Pilkington, E. (July 5, 2023). Fourth of July overshadowed by 16 mass shootings across US. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jul/05/fourth-of-july-mass-shootings-gun-violence
2Cox, J.W. et al. (June 11, 2023). More than 356,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/interactive/school-shootings-database/
3Kingston, B., and S. Goodrum. (March 3, 2023). 3 ways to prevent school shootings, based on research. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/3-ways-to-prevent-school-shootings-based-on-research-196548
4Alathari, L. (2019). Protecting America’s schools: A U.S. Secret Service analysis of target school violence. U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center. https://www.secretservice.gov/sites/default/files/2020-04/Protecting_Americas_Schools.pdf
5Averted school violence (ASV) database: 2021 analysis update. (2021). Community Oriented Policing Services. U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.sikich.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Averted-School-Violence-2021-Analysis-Update.pdf