Active shooter threats can be avoided in schools. A recently published study by the US Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center, “Averting Targeted School Violence”, finds that intervening and reporting about dangerous behaviors and violent plots can help save lives. Here are the ten key findings by the NTAC, detailing what schools and communities can due to prevent tragedies.
How to Avert Shooter Violence in Schools
1. Don’t Hesitate, Intervene
Intervention prevents tragedy. The NTAC analyzed 67 attack plots in schools that were prevented. In each and every one of them, community intervention was paramount to prevention. By coming forward and alerting about suspicious behaviors, school violence was avoided. Therefore, it is important to intervene when observing dangerous behavior.
2. Legal Intervention is Not Always Required
Intervene sooner rather than later to prevent an escalation that would require legal involvement. Not every threat assessment will lead or should lead to arrests and criminal charges. Community intervention on time can bring a positive outcome that will not require the justice system’s involvement.
3. De-escalate Combustible Situations
Unresolved conflicts may lead to violence. The motivation for student attacks often comes from grievances and conflicts with classmates that remain unresolved. Professional assistance in de-escalating friction can help prevent combustible situations that can lead to violence.
4. Provide Students with Reporting Resources
Students can prevent violent incidents. In the analyzed cases, friends, classmates and peers of plotters observed their dangerous behaviors and plans. However, they did not always report them. By training students and providing them with reporting resources, students who come forward and alert adults, can prevent tragedies.
5. Provide Parents and Families with Training
Parents and families are an essential piece of the prevention puzzle. In these 67 cases, they prevented violent incidents by observing and reporting dangerous behaviors. It’s important to train families and communities about dangerous behaviors and provide them with the resources to deal with such situations.
6. Empower SROs
School Resource Officers (SROs) are a trusted adult in the school community, who can help with observing dangerous behavior, responding to reports and with reporting behaviors themselves. By establishing the role of SROs and providing them with resources, more attacks can be prevented.
7. Remain Cautious Even if the Student is Physically Away
Removing a student from a school does not remove the threat or the risk. It is important to intervene, provide support and stay observant even if the dangerous behavior no longer takes place on campus.
8. Assess Students Researching Attacks or Hate Crimes
A large percentage of the plotters were interested in these topics prior to the planned attack. Students researching previous mass active shooter events or hate theories like White Supremacy or Nazism should be immediately assessed.
9. Be Aware of Meaningful Dates
Certain dates are significant to attackers, like the month of April, the month of the Columbine attack, or the beginning or the end of the school year. It’s advised to take extra precaution on special dates.
10. Examine Access to Arms
Access to weapons is dangerous. Many plotters had access to firearms, whether if they were permitted access by their parents or the stole weapons from their parents. Therefore, it’s important to examine how accessible weapons are to students.
Active shooter threats can be prevented. By staying alert, looking out for dangerous behaviors and intervening on time, students who plan violent actions can be averted.
If active shooter threats in schools are not stopped on time, technology can help. Gabriel is a smart shield button that alerts law enforcement in case of a shooter threat and helps keep communities safe. When the shield is started, video and two-way communication begins streaming, providing 'eyes and ears' on sight, in real time, for first responders. Simultaneously, a command dashboard with hot zone mapping, geofencing, and omni-channel communication provides instant communication to mobile devices. Gabriel protects the network with situational awareness to save lives.
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