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Assessing Violence Potential: Community Protocol for Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Intervention, 9 th Edition.

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Assessing Violence Potential: Community Protocol for Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Intervention, 9 th Edition.

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Presentation on theme: "Assessing Violence Potential: Community Protocol for Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Intervention, 9 th Edition."— Presentation transcript:

1 Assessing Violence Potential: Community Protocol for Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Intervention, 9 th Edition

2 Introduction Background: In 2000, the Lethbridge College and the Canadian Threat Assessment Training Board collaborated in the development of a Threat Assessment Training program initiative to train multi- disciplinary teams. Limitations: Need for Training Importance of Safe School Culture: (Pg. 3 – Protocol)

3 Introduction Key benefits of having a protocol: The parents, staff, and students know that high risk behaviors will be dealt with, which reduces anxiety in all Assessments may help to identify undiagnosed clinical disorders or other significant issues which can then be dealt with more effectively

4 Introduction Appropriate Intervention equals Threat Management: There is no one tool or strategy designed to manage threats Threat management is simply an appropriate intervention at the appropriate time

5 Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) Model Synthesis of two bodies of Research and Assessments I. Early Secret Service Research around School-based Threat Assessment. II. General Violence Risk Assessment work that clinicians and therapists have been doing for years. (Pg. 4 – Protocol)

6 Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) Model Three Stage VTRA Model Stage I Data Collection and Immediate Risk Reducing Interventions Stage II Multidisciplinary Risk Evaluation Stage III Formal Development and Implementation of a Comprehensive Intervention (Pg. 6 – Protocol)

7 Composition of Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) Committee & Teams VTRA Committee and Protocol Development: Every school/community jurisdiction has unique factors that may require modifications to VTRA Membership. These may include community resources, student population size, rural or urban, etc. Phase I: VTRA Committees and Protocol Development. Phase II: VTRA Team Development. Phase III: VTRA Team and Protocol Maintenance. (Pg. 7, 8 – Protocol)

8 Composition of a Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) Committee & Teams Application of VTRA: School – Based Stage I teams Division/District Based Stage I Teams Training for upper-administrative personnel in the VTRA model Activation of the Stage II Team Stage I VTRA Team Leadership and Team Activation: Principal or Designate (Pg. 8, 9 – Protocol)

9 Composition of a Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) Committee & Teams Stage I: (Initial Response) Primary Function: Data collection Immediate Risk Reducing Intervention Members: School Principal and/or their designate Clinician (e.g. Psychologist, Therapist, Counsellor, etc.) Police of Jurisdiction (e.g. School Resource Officer, local police, R.C.M.P.) Others: Probation, Child Protection Workers, Mental Health Workers, etc. (Pg. 10– Protocol)

10 Composition of a Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) Committee & Teams Stage II: (Comprehensive Risk Evaluation) Primary Function: Risk Evaluation (Low, Moderate, High) Further Data Collection beyond Stage I Members: Mental Health Workers, Child Protection Workers, Psychologists, Psychiatrists Additional Resources: Criminal Profilers, Forensic Psychologists (Pg. 11 – Protocol)

11 Composition of a Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) Committee & Teams Stage III: (Longer Term Treatment Planning) Primary Function: The development and implementation of a comprehensive multidisciplinary intervention. The establishment of a review date. (Pg. 11 – Protocol)

12 Determining When To Activate a Violence Threat/Risk Assessment In practice, V-TRA team members often consult with each other on situations of concern but formal action is only taken when particular criteria are met At times, it may be difficult to decide whether or not to activate the formal VTRA process. The following are guidelines for four main areas. It is important to carefully consider each case on its own merits. I. Immediate Risk Situations: II. Early Elementary Students: III. Worrisome Behaviors: IV. Non School Hour Cases: (Pg. 12, 13 – Protocol)

13 Determining When To Activate a Violence Threat/Risk Assessment The following is a list (Not a complete list) of behaviors that Warrant Automatic activation of a Formal Threat/Risk Assessment. Serious violence with intent to harm or kill Verbal/written threats to kill others (Clear, Direct, and Plausible) Internet website/MSN threats to kill others Possession of weapons, including replicas Bomb threats (Making and/or detonating explosive devices) Fire setting Sexual intimidation or assault Gang related intimidation and violence (Pg. 14– Protocol)

14 Determining When To Activate a Violence Threat/Risk Assessment What is a Threat? It is an expression of intent to do harm or act out violently against someone or something. Types of Threats: I. Direct threat: II. Indirect threat: III. Veiled threat: IV. Conditional threat: Threats may be written, verbal, drawn, posted, or gestured only (Pg. 15 – Protocol)

15 Determining When To Activate a Violence Threat/Risk Assessment Violence: When there is violence that occurs, there are some guidelines to help determine if it is a disciplinary matter, or it should be dealt with as a violence/threat risk assessment case: (Pg. 15– Protocol)

16 Determining When To Activate a Violence Threat/Risk Assessment Consult with a V-TRA team member if: Lower baseline violence seems unprovoked No intent to harm is present Clear victim and perpetrator dyad with power imbalance If the frequency, intensity, and recency (FIR) of the violence denotes a significant increase in behavioural baseline of the perpetrator (Pg. 15– Protocol)

17 Determining When To Activate a Violence Threat/Risk Assessment Activate Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (V-TRA) team if: Serious violence occurs There is intent to seriously injure the target(s) When illegal weapons are brandished or used in the commission of the offence Direct, Clear, and plausible threats to kill or seriously injure are communicated (Pg. 15– Protocol)

18 Working with Members of Ethnic Minorities The Potential for Cultural Bias is Has been well documented in psychological literature. We need to always be cognizant of this fact when conducting a VTRA Factors/Stressors that may influence the perceived levels of risk: Rates of Poverty Racism Discrimination Language Barriers Lack of cultural understanding Mistrust of authority figures (Pg. 16– Protocol)

19 Students With Special Needs and VTRA Typical threat-making or aggressive behaviors for the students baseline will not warrant the activation of the V-TRA team However, if the student moves beyond their baseline, the V-TRA team would be activated Once activated, the V-TRA process is not modified other than to ensure the appropriate interviewing strategies with the student with special needs Note of Caution: Be cautious not to assume that the behaviors are caused or a result of the diagnosis, neglecting the possibility that the student may be moving along a pathway of Justification. (Pg. 17– Protocol)

20 VTRA Reminders Threat Assessment Trumps Suspension Threat Assessment is not a Disciplinary Measure (Pg. 18– Protocol)

21 Fair Notice Fair Notice : Notice is given that violence and threats of violence will not be tolerated. This will ensure that a consistent message is given regarding the protocol to all Zero Tolerance: Zero tolerance for not responding to serious violence or threat- making behaviors (Pg. 18– Protocol)

22 Create an Expectation for Responsible Reporting Social Responsibility Vs. Ratting or Snitching (Pg. 19– Protocol)

23 Responsible Sharing of Information Provinces and States all have legislation that permits the sharing of information under circumstances where there is imminent danger. It is important to review this legislation in your own Province or State to ensure adherence while providing for school safety. (Pg. 19– 27, – Protocol)

24 Responsible Sharing of Information Supreme Court of Canada (1998) 1)The individual charter rights of the student are lessened to protect the collective need for safety and security of the general student population; 2)Schools officials have greater flexibility to respond to ensure the safety of the general student population in an educational setting than law enforcement officials have in a public setting. Report of the Review Panel – Virginia Tech Shootings Ontario and B.C. Privacy Commissioners – Shootings at Carlton University (Pg. 19– 27, – Protocol)

25 Responsible Sharing of Information Saskatchewan Initiatives Alberta Initiatives (Pg. 19– 27, – Protocol)

26 Responsible Sharing of Information Ontario Initiatives British Columbia Initiatives (Pg. 19– 27, – Protocol)

27 Responsible Sharing of Information Example: Significant Risk of Harm to the Public A school counsellor has observed that one of her student patients is very angry and has been expressing feelings of deep despair and hopelessness. He blames others for his misfortunes and has expressed ideas of getting even. The student has no known friends. The counsellor has read essays written by the student that are violent, graphic and very disturbing. Having mentioned his blog, the counsellor read a number of the students postings that were also disturbing and self- aggrandizing.

28 Responsible Sharing of Information One blog posting included a photo of the student with what appears to be an improvised explosive device. The counsellors professional opinion is that the student is on the verge of a breakdown and she is concerned that he will harm himself or others. She recognizes her duty to respect the students privacy, but believes there is a significant risk that the student may act out his desire for revenge. She determines that it may be necessary to disclose the students personal information in order to prevent significant harm to the student, fellow students, or to the public.

29 Responsible Sharing of Information Yukon Initiatives Special Note: The remainder of this section was adapted, with consent, from the Yukon Department of Educations Yukon Threat Assessment Program (Y-TAP) policy and procedure manual. Sharing Youth Justice Information: Youth Criminal Justice Act I nformation in a YCJA record may be shared with any professional or other person engaged in the supervision or care of a young person – including a representative of any school board or school or any other educational or training institution – for a range of reasons, including safety of staff, students or other persons (Pg. 19– 27, – Protocol)

30 Responsible Sharing of Information Childrens Act Records: Most provincial acts enable the Director to consent to the disclosure of records maintained under the act. There is no time period limiting this. Student Records; Providing consent on behalf of another: Individuals (of authority) may consent for disclosure for another, provided it is not an unreasonable invasion of privacy. (Pg. 19– 27, – Protocol)

31 Responsible Sharing of Information Student Records; Childrens Consent: (Factors to Consider) Governing legislation The age of the child The childs level of maturity. (Is the child able to understand the requirements of the consent) The sensitivity of the information and consequences of releasing it (Pg. 19– 27, – Protocol)

32 Involving Parents in Threat/Risk Assessments Parent (Caregiver) Notification – Threat Maker: Parent (Caregiver) Notification – Target: Reasons to Delay Notification of Parents: (Pg. 27– 29 – Protocol)

33 Assessing Violence and Threats Data Collection The Interviewer: An investigative, Skeptical, inquisitive mindset is central to successful application of the threat assessment process Be Objective Use Common Sense – Step back to evaluate if ther information makes sense Corroborate and Verify Information (Pg. 30 – Protocol)

34 Assessing Violence and Threats Data Collection Who are the candidates for being interviewed? Teachers/School Staff Students Target(s) Threat Maker(s) Parents/Guardians/Caregivers Any others with potential information (Pg. 31 – Protocol)

35 Assessing Violence and Threats Data Collection The Interviewed: There are four questions that need to be asked and answered before any interviews are conducted. I. How much time do we have: II. Who will be Interviewed: III. What order will we interview them in: IV. Who will interview whom: (Pg. 31– Protocol)

36 Assessing Violence and Threats Data Collection The Strategic Interview: The following aspects or areas of the threat makers life need to be explored through the data collection process. Contextual data may be obtained from multiple sources including those sources (interview candidates) already listed Refer to Appendix C for a more thorough guide to the type of data to be collected (Pg. 32– Protocol)

37 Assessing Violence and Threats Data Collection Series I – Details of the Incident; Series II – Attack-Related Behaviors: Series III – Threat Maker Typology: Series IV – Empty Vessel: Series V – Target Typology: (Pg. 32– Protocol)

38 Assessing Violence and Threats Data Collection Series VI – Peer Dynamics and Structure: Series VII – Contextual Factors (Triggers): Series VIII – School Dynamics and Structure: Series IX – Family Dynamics and Structure: Series X – Baseline Overview: (Pg. 32 - 33– Protocol)

39 Assessing Violence and Threats Data Collection Threat/Risk Assessment: Evaluation: Following the thorough assessment of all contextual data, risk factors, responsible information sharing and careful consideration of data provided by the family, the TAT makes an evaluation of the threat/risk level posed by the individual (Low, Medium, High) It is important to determine level so that the interventions are consistent and responsive to the level of risk (Pg. 33– Protocol)

40 Assessing Violence and Threats Low: Categorization of risk does not imply no risk, but indicates the individual is at little risk for violence, and monitoring of the matter may be appropriate (Pg. 33– Protocol)

41 Assessing Violence and Threats Medium: Categorization of risk indicates the individual is at an elevated risk for violence, and those measures currently in place or further measures, including monitoring, are required in an effort to manage the individuals future risk (Pg. 33– Protocol)

42 Assessing Violence and Threats High: Categorization of risk indicates the individual is at high or imminent risk for violence, and immediate intervention is required to prevent an act of violence from occurring (Pg. 33– Protocol)

43 Violence Threat/Risk Assessment: Intervention and Management Guidelines for Re-entry into School: Established within Stage III of the VTRA Model Supportive Services: Supporting Targeted or Victimized Students or Staff: Are individual or boader supports needed Key Point: There may be cases where the recipient of the threats has been engaged in high risk behaviors as well, leading to the threats in the first instance In these situations the recipient of the threats may need to be assessed for high risk behaviors as well (Pg. 34– Protocol)

44 Anonymous Threats: Assessment and Intervention Note: As of the writing of this protocol, there are no known cases in North America where an un-authored threat to kill was issued and a homicide occurred on the day the threat stated Although they may be credible in the world of terrorism, in the field of school-based threat assessment, the lack of ownership (Authorship) denotes lack of commitment. Never the less, there are steps that should be followed (Pg. 35– Protocol)

45 Anonymous Threats: Assessment and Intervention I. Assess the un-authored threat: In determining the initial level of risk, V-TRA teams should consider the language of commitment in the letter II.Identifying the Threat Maker: In many cases the author is never found, but steps can be taken to identify who the author(s) are Note: Contra-Indicators III.Avoid or Minimize the crises/trauma response: (Pg. 35 – 36 – Protocol)

46 Post Vention: (Anonymous Threats) Crisis/Trauma Management Low Risk Few are aware of the threat; no names, language is vague, etc. Moderate to High Risk Specific names or groups are identified; more people are aware of the threats; etc. (Pg. 37 – Protocol)

47 Post Vention: (Anonymous Threats) Crisis/Trauma Management Communicating with the Media and Parents: When a case draws media attention, any communication should be a collaborative response between the jurisdiction and the police. Information that is communicated to parents/caregivers should be for the purpose of modeling openness, promoting credibility, and reducing/mitigating any increase in system anxiety. (Pg. 38– Protocol)

48 Bedroom/Locker Dynamic Throughout the development of the VTRA Model, evidence of this Dynamic has been identified in hundreds of cases across Canada. Unfortunately, in a few cases such as the 1999 School shooting in Taber, this is found too late. Supreme Court of Canada (1998) set a legal precedent Its one thing to make a threat. It is another to engage in behavior consistent with the threat. (Pg. 39 – 41 – Protocol)

49 Conclusion The materials and information in this manual are intended as an informed guide to assessing, intervening with and managing high-risk, violent, and threat making behaviors. No two cases are the same Each incident must be treated as unique The strengths of this model lies in the use of multi-disciplinary teams that investigate and evaluate all factors and contexts of the students life and the specific incident of concern

50 Assessing Violence Potential: Community Protocol for Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Intervention, 9 th Edition Case Study

51 Assessing Violence Potential: Community Protocol for Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Intervention, 9 th Edition

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