Are there steps schools can take to intervene and help prevent violence? The answer to this question is yes.
As recently as early December 2018, a school shooter was blocked at an Indiana school thanks to a tip made to local police. As noted in this article from EdWeek, “effective prevention efforts and cooperation between schools and law enforcement are best practices for school safety.”
The Secret Service recently published a report on school safety that details a comprehensive targeted violence prevention plan that includes assessments for desperation, despair, emotional issues, and stressors. The link between students having emotional or psychological difficulties and potentially violent behaviors needs to be taken very seriously.
Following a few simple steps, schools can establish a plan that works with their environment and resources to help enhance school safety. The first step is selecting a team of individuals who meet on a regular basis to manage the process, creating procedures for assessing situations involving students believed to be at risk. The team should define unacceptable behaviors that require intervention so they may identify students in distress before their behavior escalates.
The next step is implementing a reporting mechanism, allowing those who are concerned about a student’s behavior to safely pass along information. At Gaggle, we believe that students are one of the best lines of defense to protect schools, offering safety management as well as the SpeakUp cyber tipline to help provide insight into students’ behavior. Once tips are received, your team must decide how to best handle the information—and when to involve law enforcement. Some issues can be best handled by the school, while others will need additional help to intervene without incident.
For additional resources on how best to create and manage a violence prevention plan, refer to the Secret Service report, which includes a variety of additional resources for schools and districts.