Threat assessment represents an important component of a comprehensive approach to school safety that gives schools an alternative to zero tolerance discipline policies that have proven to be ineffective and counterproductive. It has been suggested that when a threat assessment is conducted, the threat is not carried out. Threat assessment is a violence prevention strategy that involves: a identifying student threats to commit a violent act, b determining the seriousness of the threat, and c developing intervention plans that protect potential victims and address the underlying problem or conflict that stimulated the threatening behavior. The goals of threat assessment are to keep schools safe and to help potential offenders overcome the underlying sources of their anger, hopelessness, or despair. Effective threat assessment provides school professionals with useful information about a student's risks and personal resources.
The role of policies and procedures Through its policies and threate, each organization provides its own definition of Local adult singles it means to take a threat seriously. Have there been any efforts made to alter the target's regular patterns, reduce interaction with the subject, or prevent the subject from contacting the target? Violnet school establishes a multidisciplinary team based on its existing staff of school administrators, mental health, and law enforcement professionals schools may adapt team composition to fit their staffing. If the school determines that an individual poses a threat of violence, a plan should be developed that involves individual management, Identifying violent threats, and support. For example, you should consider:.
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A transient threat is often justified as being a joke, a figure of speech or a tactic in an argument. Download it here. Depending on the time of Identifying violent threats, the day of the week and the content of the threat, they may advise you to initiate lockdown or close the school. And with new tactics, such as doxxing or Identifying violent threats, cyberbullying has a greater potential to cause harm. Ongoing risk management 2m 26s. It is not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice. Funding or cash flow changes Do you expect to have any changes in your cash flow that might have a negative impact? Here's how to determine your threats, so you can be prepared and reduce risk. And worse, there was a per cent increase in the number of actual violent events such as guns on school property, Digi-key corporation twin falls shootings or thwarted plots. It will also help you create an easy-to-follow guide of your crisis response and investigation. Neither politicians nor social media posts, though, focus much on young males in the rhetoric following such events. The last step, number 5, is turning what you found in your SWOT analysis into actionable strategies.
A client stares directly at a staff member and with alarming serenity says, "If you do that, I'll kill you.
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- With discourses surrounding terrorism and gun violence, which have become prominent again in the wake of Charleston and Chattanooga, people want to find patterns that illustrate the source of the threats of violence.
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A client stares directly at a staff member and with alarming serenity says, "If you do that, I'll kill you. An employee confides that he overheard a co-worker talking about wanting to harm another colleague.
What should you do? One of your staff members consults you because she is concerned that she is being stalked by a client. How will you manage the situation? Organizations are increasingly being called upon to assess and respond to threats of workplace violence, homicidal ideations, stalking, and other situations where targeted violence is a possibility. Staff interventions have a profound impact on the outcome and safety of a threatening situation.
Unfortunately, inappropriate interventions sometimes escalate a situation and precipitate violent behavior. Therefore, it is imperative that staff members respond effectively, and have policies and procedures that support them.
To appropriately respond to threats, it is critical that staff members remain calm, seek assistance, and take the threat seriously 8. Through its policies and procedures, each organization provides its own definition of what it means to take a threat seriously.
Staff members should always consult such policies for guidance when encountered with a threatening situation. Consequently, when a threat is received, precious time is wasted while staff try to translate vague policies into an action plan.
Because time is critical, this can result in poor management of a crisis situation. Organizations can prevent such a problem from occurring by establishing a threat assessment team TAT , and clearly articulating workplace violence procedures before an incident occurs. A coordinated team approach before, during, and after a threatening incident deters potentially violent situations and maximizes the ability to provide care, welfare, safety, and security for everyone involved.
The following article reviews suggestions regarding the establishment, function, policies, and procedures of threat assessment teams compiled from the following resources: the U. The primary goal of the TAT is to proactively assess the conditions, policies, and procedures of the organization in order to prevent or reduce the chances that a potentially violent situation will occur1. In the event of a threat, the TAT is also responsible for:. TAT members should include a diverse group of personnel who can readily respond when someone is endangered.
The core group typically includes representatives from human resources, security, and employee assistance1. TAT representatives should be sensitive to individuals' legal and civil rights, confidentiality issues, cultural issues, and should represent the diversity of the clientele1. Additional members may be designated later, depending on the nature of the case.
According to OSHA guidelines for workplace violence prevention programs WVPP , written polices should support the efforts of the TAT and should specifically state that the employer: 1 will refuse to tolerate violence at the workplace; 2 will develop and implement a program to reduce incidents of violence; 3 will provide adequate authority and budgetary resources toward the WVPP; 4 will encourage employee participation in the design and implementation of the WVPP; 5 will apply WVPP policies consistently and fairly to all employees; 6 will require prompt and accurate reporting of violent incidents whether or not physical injury has occurred ; and 7 will not discriminate against victims of workplace violence 6.
Many organizations begin to enact these goals through the development of a well-articulated zero tolerance policy. A zero tolerance policy means that each and every act or threat of violence, regardless of the initiator, will elicit an immediate and firm response1.
Additional proactive steps recommended by OSHA include records reviews, workplace security analyses, and workplace surveys 7. The second fundamental step of the TAT is to review previous incidents of threats or violence in order to identify patterns that may indicate the causes and nature of threatening incidents. This review will be used to identify areas of need and to revise and improve the current policy and procedure. According to OSHA, the review should examine the following:.
The TAT should analyze and identify any apparent trends in threatening or assaultive incidents relating to particular departments, units, job titles, unit activities, time of day, etc.
Communication with similar organizations may also be useful to identify industry trends6. A workplace security analysis will also help the TAT formulate ideas for preventative action. OSHA provides an inspection checklist that can be used to identify and institute control methods designed to eliminate or minimize the risks of threatening and assaultive incidents6,7. This list can guide the TAT through several tasks that should be addressed.
It includes:. Another essential element of proactive TAT involvement is to participate in and oversee employee training. Clear and well-defined policies are a cornerstone of prevention and demonstrate management's concern and commitment to staff safety 1,2,3,4,5. However, a policy alone is not enough1. The TAT must also develop a decisive action plan that outlines procedures when there is an immediate need for response. These procedures should include clear directives for staff members and sometimes clients regarding their responsibility to report a threat, under what conditions, and to whom they should report the threat 1.
A procedure for reporting threatening incidents should be developed if one is not already in place1. This procedure should apply to all types of violent incidents, whether or not physical injury has occurred i. Each incident should be reported to and evaluated by the TAT. Sample incident report form. The first effort of the TAT should be to ensure the safety of everyone involved as soon as possible. Depending on the urgency of the situation, this may have to be enacted before the TAT is completely convened.
The first team members to arrive should immediately secure the area, assist the victim, and assess the safety of others. They should also ensure that no work area is left short-staffed, assess the possibility that others may be indirectly involved, and make preliminary evaluations about the risk of a situation1. Once convened, the TAT should evaluate each of the previous response actions as a full group before moving on.
Immediate issues that should be addressed by the TAT are:. Once the immediate safety of the situation is secured, all primary elements of the threat report and any subsequent actions relating to the incident should be documented. Documentation should include all of the central elements of a case, yet be written succinctly1.
This documentation, as well as all investigative files, should be kept secure and maintained separately from other records1. The International Association of Chiefs of Police provide a minimal list of information that should be gathered about the threatening incident 4 :. Once the preliminary information is documented, the TAT can begin the threat assessment investigation. The TAT should provide careful documentation of their reasoning throughout the investigation2.
Comprehensive documentation will help to implement organizational improvements in the future and may be necessary to justify the actions and decisions of the TAT if they are ever criticized at a later time. The next primary objective of the TAT is to begin a comprehensive investigation that will gather information on the subject and potential targets.
According to OSHA, a detailed investigation that takes place as soon as possible is imperative 6. If applicable, pictures should be taken of any injuries or damage that occurred at the site of the incident1.
A crisis moment is generally the culmination of identifiable trails of problems, conflicts, disputes, and failures 2. The investigation should focus on fact-finding that will prevent the subject from continuing the threatening behavior or following through on the threat. Key elements of the investigation should include:. Carefully review incidents and materials for any indication of patterned behavior. Pay special attention to any indication of the subject's potential motives, intentions, and capacities in regard to attack-related behaviors and the subject's ability to cope during times of stress 2.
The Secret Service Threat Assessment Suggestions noted in the following section offers several questions that can help guide you through the process of identifying key information.
It is recommended that the TAT separate and isolate affected parties and interview witnesses as soon as possible while the incident is still fresh in their minds and unaltered by other influences. Witnesses should prepare their own written statements about the circumstances leading up to the incident and what they saw and heard. The TAT should perform interviews individually and maintain their own written summaries of each interview 2.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to interview the subject. This decision should be made on a case-by-case basis 2. Some advantages of interviewing a subject might be that it: a provides the subject an opportunity to explain his or her perspective of the incident; b allows the TAT to gather information about the subject's thinking, behavior patterns, and activities regarding the target; c provides the TAT with an opportunity to indicate to the subject that they are aware of the behavior; d provides the TAT with opportunity to explain the seriousness of the incident and clarify the consequences; and e offers the subject a face-saving way to re-open communication in a more productive manner 2.
Under the right circumstances, a professional, respectful interview that is conducted in a nonjudgmental manner can make a positive impact on the subject's current and future behavior.
On the other hand, an ineffectively conducted interview, where the interviewer is accusatory or challenging, is likely to aggravate the situation or incite violent behavior. There are several other circumstances that may make an interview with the subject counterproductive. For example, it could be unsafe to interview a subject who has not regained physical and emotional control of their own behavior and rationality 8.
Or, if the subject is primarily seeking attention, the behavior may be stimulated by an interview. Similarly, a desperate subject may sense that time is running out and be prompted to engage in more extreme behavior. In such circumstances, the TAT should refrain from interviewing the subject, and instead consider referral to the EAP, contacting a physician for a psychological risk assessment, hospitalization, arrest, or other outside professional resources 2.
Ultimately, the decision to conduct subject interviews should be made within the context of the overall investigative strategy 2 and care should be taken to provide for the safety and security of the TAT interviewer, as well as the care and welfare of the subject.
The following questions may be useful in guiding you toward a decision:. The TAT's next step in the investigation will be to begin a process of data analysis based on the archival information and interviews. A usefully way to begin the analysis is to examine the data according to the threat assessment guidelines developed by the U.
Secret Service 4. They were developed primarily for preventing the assassination of public officials, so they may not be applicable to all situations. It may be necessary to consult with outside resources or engage auxiliary TAT members during the data analysis 2. For example, a psychologist or psychiatrist can provide invaluable insight if a subject has a history of diagnosed mental conditions. Or, a legal consultant can provide advice regarding "duty to warn," confidentiality rights, and the latest information on legislation, regulations, and statutes.
In addition to providing special expertise, consultants may also suggest areas that might be explored in order to sharpen an investigation. Often times, a third party who has not been deeply involved with the case is able to offer a perspective that helps the TAT avoid "missing the forest for the trees" or provide ideas that redirect the investigation in a more productive direction 2.
Based on the data analysis, the TAT can begin to do a risk assessment. It is important to consider the breadth of data when assessing the risk level of a situation, because individuals utter threats for many reasons—only some of which truly involve violent intentions. Therefore, it is essential to determine if the threat is backed by the will and capacity to commit a violent act, or if the threat is actually a release of emotional energy and frustration 2.
The U. See Table 1. If the risk assessment indicates evidence of conditions and behaviors consistent with the capacity for carrying out a threat, the TAT should clearly document the specific information and reasoning that led to this conclusion, and immediately form a risk abatement plan. The risk abatement plan specifically details the actions that will be taken to adjust the current conditions and to reduce the potential for future violence1.
Because the crisis situation is generally composed of the integrated experience between several influences and factors, the risk abatement plan should target at least three key intervention areas: 1 changes to the environment, 2 intervention with the subject, and 3 intervention with the target 1,2.
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Identifying violent threats. The history of SWOT analysis
Threat Assessment for School Administrators & Crisis Teams
Threat assessment represents an important component of a comprehensive approach to school safety that gives schools an alternative to zero tolerance discipline policies that have proven to be ineffective and counterproductive. It has been suggested that when a threat assessment is conducted, the threat is not carried out. Threat assessment is a violence prevention strategy that involves: a identifying student threats to commit a violent act, b determining the seriousness of the threat, and c developing intervention plans that protect potential victims and address the underlying problem or conflict that stimulated the threatening behavior.
The goals of threat assessment are to keep schools safe and to help potential offenders overcome the underlying sources of their anger, hopelessness, or despair. Effective threat assessment provides school professionals with useful information about a student's risks and personal resources.
Among the other potential student risks that can be identified and prevented are suicide, alcohol and drug use, physical abuse, dropping out, and criminal activity. Effective procedures to assess threats include establishing district-wide policies and procedures, creating interdisciplinary assessment teams, and educating the school community.
A threat is an expression of intent to do harm or act out violently against someone or something. It may be spoken, written, or symbolic. Threats can be expressed directly or indirectly to the victim or to others, and threats may be explicit or implied. Threats sometimes, but rarely, actually involve guns or explosive devices. Many students who make a threat will never carry it out. Conversely, others who pose a real danger may not make an explicit threat.
Threats may be communicated to the intended victim or related to a third party. A threat to harm others can be transient i. Substantive threats can be serious assault e. Threat assessment is most properly concerned with risk reduction and prevention efforts rather than statements of prediction. There is no easy formula or profile of risk factors that accurately determines whether a student is going to commit a violent act. Most students who display multiple risk factors will never become violent offenders, and some who pose a real threat will not demonstrate a prescribed level of risk.
The use of profiling i. Moreover, the process focuses solely on identification, not intervention, and fails to provide the necessary help to troubled students. In considering the risk of violence, teams should consider the following: a Is the student responsive to efforts to resolve the problem or conflict that precipitated the threatening behavior?
The assessment process should incorporate referrals to appropriate mental health and social services, as well as a system for following up on the effectiveness of the intervention. In addition, it is essential for threat assessment teams to be aware that homicide and suicide are correlated. The assessment of suicide risk should be included in all threat assessments.
An appropriate role for a school psychologist on a threat assessment team is to evaluate the student's need for educational and psychological services, seek information that helps the team understand the student's motives and reasons for making a threat, and make recommendations focused on meeting the student's needs and resolving the problem or issue that stimulated the threatening behavior.
The Virginia Model for Student Threat Assessment is a set of guidelines for school administrators to use in responding to a reported student threat of violence. School authorities navigate through a decision tree process of investigation and efforts to resolve the conflict or problem that precipitated the threat. The reader is referred to Cornell and Sheras for more information about the model. Once the initial assessment has taken place, the team must be prepared to act expeditiously based on the imminence of danger.
Some interventions might need to be staged immediately e. The team must consider whether the student can stay in school, what alternatives may be needed, how and when to notify families, if and when to involve law enforcement, and what mental health, social service, and school- based interventions are required to reduce the student's risk for violence. In cases where a criminal offense has been committed, law enforcement may choose to conduct a criminal investigation and pursue legal action against the presumed offender or offenders.
In these cases, the team may need to distinguish its actions from those of law enforcement. If the school determines that an individual poses a threat of violence, a plan should be developed that involves individual management, monitoring, and support. There are a number of other positive outcomes related to the use of a threat assessment approach. These include fewer instances of bullying, perceptions of a more positive and supportive school climate, greater willingness to seek help, and fewer long-term suspensions.
Threat assessments can provide a valuable opportunity to identify students at risk for a variety of mental health problems and guide appropriate interventions and supports. A comprehensive interventions-based approach can reduce the risk to both potential victims and perpetrators.
Cornell, D. Guidelines for responding to student threats of violence. Longmont, CO: Sopris West. A retrospective study of school safety conditions in high schools using the Virginia Threat Assessment Guidelines versus alternative approaches. School Psychology Quarterly , 24, Contributors: Shane R.
Department of Education and the Secret Servcie on threat assessment in schools. Implementing Threat Assessment Procedures in Schools Effective procedures to assess threats include establishing district-wide policies and procedures, creating interdisciplinary assessment teams, and educating the school community.
Establish district-wide policies and procedures. All threats of violence must be taken seriously and investigated, so it is important to have a specific policy and established procedures for dealing with student threats.
The policy should clarify the role of educators in relation to that of law enforcement, identify the threat assessment team, and specify the team's training requirements.
Create an interdisciplinary assessment team. Effective threat assessment is based on the combined efforts of a school-based team including representatives from administration, school employed mental health professionals, and law enforcement. In unusually complex cases, the team might draw upon professionals in the local community.
The interdisciplinary team approach improves the efficiency and scope of the assessment process and reduces the risk of observer bias. Educate the school community about threat assessment. Implementation of a threat assessment approach hinges on educating the school community about the importance of a positive school climate that focuses on providing help for students before problems escalate into violence.
Schools should regularly assess their climate, with particular emphasis on students' trust in adults and willingness to seek help for problems and concerns. All members of the community, especially students, must understand the distinction between seeking help to prevent violence and "snitching," or informing on someone for personal gain. Written materials should be publicly available and specific efforts should be made to explain relevant aspects of the threat assessment policy to staff members, students, and families.
Types of Threats A threat is an expression of intent to do harm or act out violently against someone or something. Conduct an Individualized Assessment of Each Threat Threat assessment is most properly concerned with risk reduction and prevention efforts rather than statements of prediction.
Considering Risk for Violence There is no easy formula or profile of risk factors that accurately determines whether a student is going to commit a violent act. School Psychologists' Role An appropriate role for a school psychologist on a threat assessment team is to evaluate the student's need for educational and psychological services, seek information that helps the team understand the student's motives and reasons for making a threat, and make recommendations focused on meeting the student's needs and resolving the problem or issue that stimulated the threatening behavior.
Virginia Model The Virginia Model for Student Threat Assessment is a set of guidelines for school administrators to use in responding to a reported student threat of violence.
Threat Management Once the initial assessment has taken place, the team must be prepared to act expeditiously based on the imminence of danger.
Options for Intervention Some interventions might need to be staged immediately e. Threat Management Plan If the school determines that an individual poses a threat of violence, a plan should be developed that involves individual management, monitoring, and support.
Additional Benefits of Threat Assessment There are a number of other positive outcomes related to the use of a threat assessment approach. Summary A comprehensive interventions-based approach can reduce the risk to both potential victims and perpetrators.