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Threat Assessment and Threat Management in Schools Katie Neubauer, Ed.S. ACES School Psychologist MOARE Conference February.

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Presentation on theme: "Threat Assessment and Threat Management in Schools Katie Neubauer, Ed.S. ACES School Psychologist MOARE Conference February."— Presentation transcript:

1 Threat Assessment and Threat Management in Schools Katie Neubauer, Ed.S. ACES School Psychologist kneubauer@maryville.k12.mo.us MOARE Conference February 15 th, 2013

2 Includes about 6,300 students, K-12. Area Cooperative for Education Support (ACES)

3 Why are we here? NOT to talk about an active shooter scenario. Briefly discuss the history of threat assessments. Learn a research-based method for assessing threats made by your students in school.

4 What is Threat Assessment? Evaluates risk of violence posed by someone who has communicated an intent to harm someone. Considers the context and circumstances surrounding a threat. Threat assessment includes interventions to manage and reduce the risk of violence.

5 Purposes of threat assessment: 1. Reduce the risk. 2. Identify educational and support needs. 3. Reduce legal liability.

6 387 School shootings since 1992, including university campuses. Red icons indicate multiple fatalities, yellow indicate one or no fatalities. Source: http://www.stoptheshootings.org/Data current as of 1/27/13http://www.stoptheshootings.org/

7 Age of Victims 1992-2013 0 - 931 (6%) 10 - 19299 (59%) 20 - 2980 (16%) 30 - 3928 (6%) 40 - 4932 (6%) 50+38 (7%) Total number of fatalities:508 Age of Shooters 1992-2013 0 - 95 (2%) 10 - 19168 (69%) 20 - 2936 (15%) 30 - 3912 (5%) 40 - 4914 (6%) 50+9 (4%) Total number of shooters:244 Source: http://www.stoptheshootings.org/ Data current as of 1/27/13http://www.stoptheshootings.org/

8 The actual occurrence of school shooting and fatality is low. School is still one of the safest places to be for any student. CDC Division of Violence Prevention = less than 2% of all youth homicides occur at school, and this percentage has been stable for the past decade.

9 Brief History of Threat Assessment Process originally developed by the U.S. Secret Service- not for use in schools. Following Columbine the Secret Service and the Department of Education evaluated how these principles could be applied in school (published as “Safe Schools Initiative”)

10 Lessons learned From Safe School Initiative, 2002 93% of cases the act was planned; 51% had the idea for at least a month. 81% of incidents someone else knew; 59% of cases, more than 1 person knew; 93% of cases a schoolmate or sibling knew. 17% threatened to harm in some way prior to attack. No profile: about ½ showed no marked change in performance, friendships or disciplinary problems. 93% engaged in behavior that caused others to be concerned; 88% at least one ADULT was concerned.

11 98% experienced some type of loss prior to attack (precipitating event). Lacked coping skills; 83% had behaviors that suggested difficulty in coping. 78% had a history of suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts prior to attack. 61% had documented history of feeling depressed or desperate. 71% felt bullied, persecuted or injured prior to attack. In several cases the bullying was long-standing and severe. 63% had a known history of weapon use. 68% acquired the guns used in the attack from their own home or that of a relative. 44% were encouraged or influenced by others to engage in the attacks.

12 Most were stopped by school administrators, educators or other students, or by stopping on their own (suicide). Most incidents were brief and ended in less than 15 minutes. 27% were stopped by law enforcement intervention. About ¼ were over in 5 minutes.

13 Lessons learned lead to the “6 principles of the threat assessment process”. 1. Targeted violence is the result of an understandable process, not a random or spontaneous act. 2. Consider person, situation, setting and target. 3. Maintain an investigative, skeptical mindset. 4. Focus on facts and behaviors, not traits. 5. Use information from all possible sources. 6. Making a threat is not the same as posing a threat. Ask, “is this student on a path toward an attack?” Abridged from the Secret Service/DOE guide

14 “Bystander Study” Prior Knowledge of Potential School-Based Violence Study, May 2008 Focuses on the discovery that in 81% of the attacks, 1 other person knew of the impending attack, and 93% were peers of the perpetrators – friends, schoolmates or siblings Explored the factors that influenced bystanders on why they did or did not report to adults/staff what they knew.

15 1. School climate matters. Schools and law enforcement should emphasize the value of the information brought forward and reassure that sharing will not cause harm. 2. Policies that address the many aspects of reporting a threat are important. 3. School staff training on how to properly respond to students who provide information about a threatening situation, as well as actual threats, is important.

16 Where to find the Bystander Study www.secretservice.gov/ntac/bystander_study.pdf

17 Development of standardized process to conduct threat assessment in school A variety of experts provided recommendations; none were backed by research 2004 the Virginia Youth Violence Project developed and field-tested guidelines.

18 Studies demonstrating effectiveness of Virginia Model* (2004) School-based teams in 35 public schools investigated 188 student threats. ◦ None of the threats were carried out. (2008) Large urban school district with a centralized threat assessment team. ◦ 109 threats to kill, shoot or stab someone. None of the threats were carried out. *Cornell et al., 2012, School Psychology Review: 100-115.

19 Studies demonstrating effectiveness of Virginia Model (2009) ◦ 95 high schools using the Virginia Model, ◦ 131 schools using locally developed procedures, and ◦ 54 schools using no threat assessment approach (or Zero Tolerance).  Results: 1/3 fewer long-term suspensions  Greater student willingness to report threats and  More positive perceptions of school staff members (2009) 23 high schools and 26 control group schools ◦ Results: 52% reduction in long-term suspensions and a 79% reduction in bullying infractions.

20 Studies demonstrating effectiveness of Virginia Model (2010) 201 students identified by principals as making a threat of violence during the school year. ◦ 100 students attending intervention schools (schools implementing the Virginia Model for the first year) and ◦ 101 students attending control schools (schools wait- listed to receive training after one year).

21 Studies demonstrating effectiveness of Virginia Model 100 students in the threat assessment group schools were more likely to receive ◦ counseling services and a ◦ parent conference and ◦ less likely to receive a long-term suspension or alternative school placement than the 101 students in the control group schools. This provides strong empirical support for the use of student threat assessment in schools.

22 The Virginia Model of Threat Assessment Step 0: Threat Reported to Principal

23 What is a threat? A threat is an expression of intent to harm someone. May be verbal, written, artistic or gestured. May be direct or indirect. Need not be communicated to the intended victim(s). Weapons possession is presumed to be a threat unless circumstances clearly indicate otherwise (“I forgot my knife was in my backpack.”) When in doubt, assume it is a threat.

24 Step 1: Threat Reported to Principal Step 1. Evaluate Threat. Step 2. Decide if threat is clearly transient or substantive. Step 3. Respond to transient threat.Step 4. Decide if the substantive threat is serious or very serious. Step 5. Respond to serious substantive threat.Step 6. Conduct Safety Evaluation. Threat is substantive. Threat is very serious. Threat is serious. Step 7. Follow up on action plan. Threat is clearly transient.

25 Virginia Model: Step 1 Evaluate the Threat Obtain an account of the threat and the context from the student and witnesses. The exact wording and context of a threat are very important! Report Threats Verbatim

26 Types of threat.. Direct Threat: A statement of clear, explicit intent to harm ◦ “I’m going to shoot you with my 9mm Glock after school.” Third Party: Violence of intent to harm another ◦ “I’m going to get him, wait and see.” Indirect Threat: Violence is implied, threat is phrased tentatively ◦ “If I wanted to, I could kill everyone at this school.” Conditional Threat: Made contingent on a set of circumstances ◦ “If they don’t let me graduate I’ll come back and shoot everybody.” Veiled Threat: Vague and subject to interpretation ◦ “It’s understandable why Columbine happened.”

27 11 Key Questions 1. What are the student’s motives or goals? 2. Any communications of intent to attack? 3. Any inappropriate interest in other attacks, weapons, or mass violence? 4. Any attack-related behaviors? Making a plan, acquiring weapons, using surveillance on potential sites, etc…) 5. Does student have the capacity to attack?

28 11 Key Questions cont…. 6. Is there hopelessness or despair? 7. Any trusting relationship with an adult? 8. Is violence regarded as a way to solve a problem? Any peer influences? 9. Are student’s words consistent with actions? 10. Are others concerned about the student? 11. What circumstances might trigger violence?

29 Assessing written or artistic material Talk to those who know the student. Understand the context of the writing or drawing Ask in detail about the material Express concern Think of written and artistic material as attempts to practice violence Look for themes Make copies when possible, and file with the counselor or in another appropriate place Monitor past and future materials Be persistent and specific with questions Assess access to or knowledge of weapons Watch for non-verbal cues

30 Step 2: Threat Reported to Principal Step 1. Evaluate Threat. Step 2. Decide if threat is clearly transient or substantive. Step 3. Respond to transient threat.Step 4. Decide if the substantive threat is serious or very serious. Step 5. Respond to serious substantive threat.Step 6. Conduct Safety Evaluation. Threat is serious. Threat is substantive. Threat is very serious. Step 7. Follow up on action plan. Threat is clearly transient.

31 Types of threats Transient vs. Substantive Often rhetorical remarks, not genuine expressions of intent to harm. At worst, express temporary feelings of anger or frustration. Usually can be resolved on the scene or in the office. After resolution, the threat no longer exists. Usually ends with an apology or clarification. Express intent to physically injure someone beyond the immediate situation. There is at least some risk the student will carry out the threat. Require that you take protective action. May be legal violations and require law enforcement consultation.

32 Substantive Threats: factors to consider Credibility of student and willingness to acknowledge his or her behavior. Credibility of witness accounts. Age of student, consider developmental factors. Capability of student to carry out the threat. Student’s discipline history.

33 Indicators of substantive threats Specific, plausible details (“I am gonna blast Mr. Johnson with my pistol.”) Threat has been repeated over time (“He’s been telling everyone he’s gonna get you.”) Threat reported as a plan or evidence of planning (“Wait until you see what happens next Tuesday in the library.”) Accomplices or recruitment of accomplices. Physical evidence of intent (written plans, lists of victims, bomb materials, etc.)

34 Threat is serious. Step 3: Threat Reported to Principal Step 1. Evaluate Threat. Step 2. Decide if threat is clearly transient or substantive. Step 3. Respond to transient threat.Step 4. Decide if the substantive threat is serious or very serious. Step 5. Respond to serious substantive threat.Step 6. Conduct Safety Evaluation. Threat is substantive. Threat is very serious. Step 7. Follow up on action plan. Threat is clearly transient.

35 Virginia Model: Step 3 Responses to a Transient Threat No need to take safety precautions See that threat is resolved through explanation, apology, making amends. Provide counseling and skills education where appropriate. Administer discipline if appropriate.

36 Step 4: Threat Reported to Principal Step 1. Evaluate Threat. Step 2. Decide if threat is clearly transient or substantive. Step 3. Respond to transient threat.Step 4. Decide if the substantive threat is serious or very serious. Step 5. Respond to serious substantive threat.Step 6. Conduct Safety Evaluation. Threat is serious. Threat is substantive. Threat is very serious. Step 7. Follow up on action plan. Threat is clearly transient.

37 Virginia model Step 4: Serious or Very Serious substantive threat? Serious = Assault threats (“I’m gonna beat him up.”) Very serious = Threats to kill, rape, physically maim (“I’m gonna slit his throat.”) Substantive threats involving a weapon are classified as very serious.

38 Step 5: Threat Reported to Principal Step 1. Evaluate Threat. Step 2. Decide if threat is clearly transient or substantive. Step 3. Respond to transient threat.Step 4. Decide if the substantive threat is serious or very serious. Step 5. Respond to serious substantive threat.Step 6. Conduct Safety Evaluation. Threat is serious. Threat is substantive. Threat is very serious. Step 7. Follow up on action plan. Threat is clearly transient.

39 Virginia Model: Step 5 respond to serious substantive threat Take precautions to protect potential victims. May consult with law enforcement. Notify intended victim and victim’s parents. Notify student’s parents. Discipline student for threat. Determine appropriate intervention for student, such as counseling or dispute mediation. Follow-up to verify that threat has been resolved and interventions are in progress.

40 Threat assessment is distinct from discipline Threat assessment is concerned with future danger to others. Discipline is concerned with the consequences for behavior. A threat may pose little danger, yet merit serious disciplinary consequences, A threat may pose danger, yet disciplinary consequences would be inappropriate and exacerbate the problem.

41 Step 6: Threat Reported to Principal Step 1. Evaluate Threat. Step 2. Decide if threat is clearly transient or substantive. Step 3. Respond to transient threat.Step 4. Decide if the substantive threat is serious or very serious. Step 5. Respond to serious substantive threat.Step 6. Conduct Safety Evaluation. Threat is serious. Threat is substantive. Step 7. Follow up on action plan. Threat is clearly transient. Threat is very serious.

42 Virginia Model step 6: respond to a very serious threat Take immediate precautions to protect potential victims. Consult with law enforcement promptly. Notify intended victim and victim’s parents Notify student’s parents Begin Risk Assessment Determine safety during suspension, or other disciplinary action. Take steps to determine whether the child has access to weapons, even if the specific threat did not involve the use of a weapon, for example, “I’m gonna kill him” said with intent.

43 Virginia Model step 6: Respond to a very serious threat Conducting a “Safety Evaluation” “Safety Evaluation” is conducted by a team and led by the Principal or designee. School psychologist or other mental health professional conducts a Risk Assessment Juvenile office or school resource officer is consulted Mental health professional (school psychologist, social worker, counselor, etc…) leads intervention planning.

44 Virginia Model: Risk Assessment Part of the safety evaluation, not a prediction of student violence. Helps identify any mental health needs (e.g. suicide). Helps determine reasons why the threat was made. Proposes strategies for reducing risk

45 Step 7: Threat Reported to Principal Step 1. Evaluate Threat. Step 2. Decide if threat is clearly transient or substantive. Step 3. Respond to transient threat.Step 4. Decide if the substantive threat is serious or very serious. Step 5. Respond to serious substantive threat.Step 6. Conduct Safety Evaluation. Threat is serious. Threat is substantive. Step 7. Follow up on action plan. Threat is clearly transient. Threat is very serious.

46 Virginia Model Step 7: Follow up with Action Plan Identify appropriate school, family, and community interventions for student Schedule follow-up contact with student to assess current risk and update plan Document plan Monitor and review effectiveness of plan

47 Risk assessment FAQ’s Parental permission? ◦ Not required in an emergency, but otherwise necessary Additional Testing? ◦ Use if clinically indicated, to supplement interviews External Evaluations? ◦ Not a substitute for evaluation by trained school staff

48 FAVT-A Normed for ages 11-18 Approx. 15 minutes for administration Self-Report

49 FAVT-A P/S = Paranoia/Suspicious PM = Persecuted Misfit SD/P = Self-Deprecating/Pseudo Independent OA = Overtly Aggressive Total FAVT-A = Total scores I/P = Instrumental/Proactive Violence Subscale H/R = Hostile/Reactive Violence Subscale

50

51 “Although the risk of an actual shooting incident in any one school is very low, threats of violence are potentially a problem in any school. Once a threat is made, having a fair, rational and standardized method of evaluating and responding to threats is critically important.” from the FBI report on school shooters (2000).

52 In conclusion… School deaths from violence are tragic and shocking, leaving those in its wake feeling helpless and grieving. A research-based, standardized process CAN help prevent violence by lowering risk. No one alone can accurately assess risk, a TEAM approach is best.

53 Thoughts and/or Questions? Thank You! Katie Neubauer, Ed.S. ACES School Psychologist Office: 660-582-3768 Mobile: 660-254-6135 kneubauer@maryville.k12.mo.us


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