What Really Keeps Us Safe

What really keeps us safe

With the recent violent events in the news, questions are bound to surface about what really keeps us safe. It’s enough to make our heads spin, keep us up at night, and second guess the safety measures we’ve put in place in our schools and workplaces. Events like what happened in Las Vegas can make many of us throw up our hands and wonder, “how can we possibly prevent something like that?”

After every incident of targeted violence, we learn a little more about how to protect ourselves and those for whom we are responsible. We do need to keep our doors locked and have consistently enforced check-in procedures at our entrances. We need to pay attention to who is in our buildings and be willing to question those we don’t recognize or who exhibit signs that they don’t belong there. We need to practice drills for all different types of emergencies, have a solid emergency response plan and effective communication system. We need to learn warning signs and have a process for intervening when we see them. Nothing has changed in that respect.

But there is one thing we come back to again and again.

It’s what really keeps us safe.

Relationships. Listening and taking concerns seriously. Paying attention and noticing when someone is struggling. Creating a welcoming and positive school climate. Stopping bullying, harassment and disrespect in its tracks.

These are not the glamorous, novel, or shiny new strategies. They are not the latest in technology or must-have safety gear.

But, they are what matters most.

After every mass shooting or incident of violence between individuals, we find someone who is unhappy, angry, feels dismissed or has suffered at the hands of someone else. When we dig deeper, we find that the person has often been in turmoil for a significant period of time and feels that no one is listening or helping to resolve the situation. We see the bullied and the bullies. We see those with a grievance who feel dismissed or disenfranchised. We find individuals who are at the fringes of the groups to which they want to belong. We see sadness, rejection and anger, and often an inability to make things better.

A sense of belonging is at the very root of human existence. Without proper bonding and positive interaction, infants fail to thrive. When children are neglected, they fall behind both socially and academically. When teens feel alone and unwanted, they become depressed, suicidal, and turn to all sorts of risky behaviors. When teens and adults have felt this way for years, they either turn the overwhelming feelings inward or outward. Often, they do both.

The best way to prevent this is to take a hard look at what we’re doing to build positive connections and an inclusive environment. We must look at this from the perspective of those we serve…our students. We may have programs in place that we believe address all of our school climate concerns, but if students don’t feel a sense of belonging, acceptance and concern from our staff and each other, we’re not doing the job as well as we think we are. If you need help finding a tool to assess how students perceive the school in these respects, take a look at this compendium of surveys or put together some focus groups and study the issue. Then, work together with all stakeholders to change what needs to be changed, and continue to monitor and evaluate until students and parents tell you that you got it right.

I was just about to ask…..

Are we becoming too complacent

I was just about to ask, “are we becoming too complacent?” In fact, that was the original title of this article. I recently noticed that we, as a society, might have allowed ourselves to put some aspects of school safety on the back burner because we hadn’t seen any major safety breaches in the past couple of years. I had begun to receive fewer requests for school safety and violence threat assessment training. Friends and acquaintances who work in schools had been commenting that security was getting a bit lax in their respective buildings.

And then, it happened. Before I could finish this article, there were 2 incidents…the stuff of our worst nightmares. Honestly, I knew it would.

On August 28, a 16-year old boy shot and killed 2 women and injured 4 others in a small community library in Clovis, NM. On September 13, a 15-year old boy shot and killed another student and wounded 3 others before being subdued by a heroic school employee.

I suspect we aren’t complacent anymore.

My phone has started to ring. But, it is not school administrators who are calling me. Rather, the calls come from reporters around the country who want to know how we can prevent this from happening again.

A recent Gallup poll called the Work and Education poll, was conducted in early August with a random sample of 233 parents of K-12 children. Gallup has administered this poll annually since 1977. This year, 24% of parents reported worrying about their child’s physical safety at school. The percentage has not been this low since August 2012, just a few months before the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, parental fear rose to 33%.

Historically, this particular poll has shown that parental fear has increased following a school shooting:

  • After the Columbine High School shooting, parental fear rose to 55%, the highest in the history of the poll
  • After the Santana High School shooting in Santee, CA, parental fear rose to 45%
  • After the shooting at a Pennsylvania Amish schoolhouse, parental fear rose to 35%

The poll also asked parents, “Have any of your school-aged children expressed any worry or concern about feeling unsafe at their school when they go back to school this fall?” Just 6% of parents reported that their children expressed concern regarding their safety while at school, the lowest number in 18 years of survey administration. The average has been 11%.

I am certainly not saying that I want parents, school staff members and students to live fearfully. I simply want to encourage those connected to schools to be mindful that we must continue to employ the school safety and prevention measures we have adopted, even when we are experiencing a positive, less violent cycle.

Perhaps now is a good time to review your tolerance and bully prevention policies and programming, and take a hard look at school climate. This might be the year to administer a school climate survey to students, parents and staff members. We have recently witnessed several high-profile incidents related to hate and intolerance. While we cannot always control what happens in the larger world, we can foster a sense of belonging and ownership within our school communities.

Has your school assembled and trained a threat assessment team? A referral to this team is vital when students or staff members have concerns about behavior or threats. When asked whether warning signs had been missed in the recent Washington shooting, Sheriff Knezovich commented, “they are always missed.” While I’m not in complete agree with the sheriff, here’s how this can happen:

When we don’t have a process in place to gather extensive data and compare notes with others, each behavior witnessed seems like an isolated incident. We must put all the pieces of the puzzle together to make a true and accurate assessment of violence risk.

Do you have your threat assessment team in place? Have all team members received high quality training? I train school staff members using the very model employed by the FBI and Secret Service to assess threats. If you’d like to know more, simply contact me here.

For a quick recap of some key warning signs, you may want to listen to this recent radio podcast. For an extensive list of warning signs, read this.

Duty to Warn

duty to warn

In my last post, I clarified the role of FERPA when it comes to the sharing of student information for the purpose of keeping others safe. If you are a counselor, social worker, psychiatrist or psychologist, you are no doubt familiar with the Tarasoff Warning. This legal responsibility stipulates that mental health professionals have a duty to warn if a client or patient threatens to harm someone. The Tarasoff Warning is the result of a case that occurred in 1969, resulting in the death of Tatiana Tarasoff.

In September of 1967, Prosenjit Poddar enrolled as a UC-Berkeley graduate student. He met Tatiana Tarasoff in 1968. They saw each other throughout the fall, but at one point, Tarasoff told Poddar that she was not interested in a relationship with him. Poddar began to stalk Tatiana. He became depressed and neglected his appearance, his studies, and his health. He often isolated himself, spoke disjointedly and cried frequently. This behavior worsened  throughout the spring and into the summer of 1969. Poddar and Tarasoff met only occasionally during this time.

Tatiana Tarasoff spent the summer of 1969 out of the country. After her departure Poddar obtained psychological help. He was a patient of Dr. Lawrence Moore, a psychologist at UC-Berkeley’s Cowell Memorial Hospital. Poddar confided that he planned to kill Tarasoff. Dr. Moore requested that the campus police detain Poddar, writing that, in his opinion, Poddar was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, acute and severe. The psychologist recommended that Poddar be civilly committed as a dangerous person. Poddar was detained but shortly thereafter released, because he appeared rational. Dr. Moore’s supervisor, Dr. Harvey Powelson, then ordered that Poddar not be further detained.

In October, after Tarasoff had returned to the country, Poddar stopped seeing his psychologist. Neither Tarasoff nor her parents received any warning of the threat. On October 27, 1969, Poddar carried out the plan he had confided to his psychologist, stabbing and killing Tarasoff.

Besides the duty to warn, there is another takeaway from this story. Persons can appear rational at times and still be dangerous. In my staff training on threat assessment, we talk at length about impression management, a behavior at which a number of past school attackers have excelled.

Following a lawsuit initiated by Tarasoff’s parents, The California Supreme Court found that a mental health professional has a duty not only to a patient, but also to individuals who are specifically threatened by a patient. This decision has since been adopted by most states in the U.S. and is widely influential outside the U.S. The specific laws in each state vary slightly, and can be found here.

As with the exceptions to confidentiality that exist with FERPA, the Tarasoff Warning provides for disclosure of specific client or patient information to protect others. Both of these should serve as a guideline for sharing necessary information with others who have a need to know, in order to protect those who trust us to keep them safe on a daily basis.

The Most Dangerous Locations in Your School

Because schools have limited budgets when it comes to making safety improvements, it’s important to consider how to invest our dollars in a way that allows us to achieve our objectives and get the most impact for our money.

We already know that restricting building access and requiring sign-in procedures at the front entrance can go a long way toward keeping danger out of our buildings. We also know that security cameras can be very useful, if they are monitored. 

What may be news, is that there are certain locations and times that have historically been linked to higher rates of violence in schools.

The most dangerous times for schools:

  • Most school-associated violent deaths occur during transition times – immediately before and after the school day, and during lunch periods.

  • School-associated violent deaths are more likely to occur at the beginning of a semester.

  • We also want to be alert to anniversary dates of well-known incidents of school violence, as those planning a similar attack have been known to choose these dates to act. Currently, we are approaching the 4-year anniversary of the horrific violence that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, on December 14, 2012.

Grade level distribution:

School-associated violent deaths that occurred between 1992 and 2010 (National School Safety Center) were distributed as follows:

  • 311 at the high school level, 71 at the middle school level, 52 at the elementary level, and 16 at alternative education facilities (no grade level stated). Clearly, no grade level is exempt.

The most dangerous locations in your school:

Homicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 5-18. Data from the National School Safety Center study indicate that between 1% and 2% of these deaths happen on school grounds or on the way to or from school.

  • Of school-associated deaths identified in the study, 105 occurred near school, 98 occurred on campus, 52 in the school parking lot, 52 in a classroom or office, 51 in a hallway, 31 in a bathroom or locker room, 28 on the athletic field or gym, 27 on the bus or at the bus stop, 11 in the school cafeteria, 7 in the school library, and 6 on the playground.

It is clear from this data that we need all staff members on board when it comes to vigilance during the transition times that occur each day. It’s also important to issue reminders to stay alert during semester changes and anniversary dates of prior school violence incidents. 

If you’re not sure what school staff members need to watch for, read this.

With first semester wrapping up soon, and the beginning of the second semester just around the corner, this is a good time to remind everyone about these facts. Don’t forget to include your specific procedures for reporting and intervening when there are troubling signs.

If you have found this information useful, please feel free to forward to others.

If someone has forwarded this newsletter to you, you can get your own safety updates here.  Safety strategies are sent out 1-2 times per month. I respect your privacy and will never share your information with others.

Sources:

National School Safety Center 1992-2010 data

School-Associated Violence Death Study (SAVD), CDC

 

School Threat Assessment FAQ

School Threat Assessment FAQ

I frequently get asked questions about how the practice of violence threat assessment applies to schools. Threat assessment is seen as the emerging standard of care for assessing concerning behavior and threats. It’s an important safety practice that should be in place in all U.S. schools.

Q. What is a threat assessment team? Do we need one?

A. Threat assessment teams are comprised of staff members representing a number of disciplines. In a school setting, this includes at least one administrator, counselor, psychologist, social worker and school resource officer or local police representative. Each of these individuals brings specific expertise to the team, which is vital to a thorough and accurate threat assessment. Threat assessment teams are required in preK-12 schools in Virginia, and the state of Oregon has recently called for a consistent statewide threat assessment protocol for schools. If you want to be sure you’ve done everything you can to keep your students and staff safe, you need a threat assessment team.

ta-team

Q. How are threat assessment teams used?

A. When someone’s behavior or words indicate that the person may be struggling to cope with a situation, or shows signs of violent ideation, the team will evaluate the threat and develop a management plan that keeps everyone safe and assists the troubled person in resolving the difficulties.

Q. Can you explain the process of assessing a threat?

A. The process of assessing a threat includes a review of multiple areas of a person’s life, past and present behavior, verbal, written or otherwise communicated threats, family dynamics, social functioning, risk factors, triggers, behaviors indicating movement along the pathway to violence, and violence inhibitors. The team will meet to review the information they already have, determine what is still needed for a thorough assessment, and divide responsibilities for gathering additional information and interviewing others (teachers, parents, students). The team will then reconvene in a timely manner to complete the assessment and develop immediate safety and intervention plans along with a long-term management plan. A threat assessment identifies risk of violence at a given point in time and must be updated as new information is gathered and discounted. It often continues for an extended period of time.

Q. Have threat assessment teams been proven to avert violence?

A. The model of threat assessment that I use in schools is the same model used by the FBI and U.S. Secret Service to assess threats to public figures. This model is the best tool we have available to investigate and mitigate potential threats. While it is always difficult to prove that a practice has prevented something that did not happen, we know of at least 200 serious acts of school violence that have been prevented by someone coming forward with a concern that is followed up by  threat assessment and a management plan.

Q. Do threat assessment team members need specific training?

A. All team members should be trained specifically in the warning signs, best practices, procedures, and tools used for violence threat assessment. Training should include a thorough explanation of behaviors and what it is typically behind them, along with signs, activities and items that could signify a violent mindset. It’s important that this training include hands on practice with threat assessment tools, case study analysis, and support and follow up for the team as they work through their first few assessments.

Q. How will people know what to report to our threat assessment team?

A. While working with school threat assessment teams, I help them develop a plan and a framework for training students, staff and parents on what to watch out for, warning signs of both suicide and violence, and reporting procedures. It’s imperative that we get this information out to these individuals, as it is most often the swift action of student, parent or staff members that results in averted violence.

Q. Where can I find more information about school threat assessment?

A. There are a number of excellent resources available to help you. For starters, I recommend reading the publications Early Warning Timely Response and Threat Assessment in Schools.  You can also learn more about the threat assessment process here.

If you have questions about the process or want to know how to get started, please feel free to contact me.

Finally, for an inexpensive training tool for your entire staff, consider this.

The Connection Between Mental Health & School Safety

The majority of people with mental illness do not commit violent acts. A number of studies support the finding that a mere 4% of violence toward others in the U.S. can be attributed to people diagnosed with mental illness.[1] There are, however, specific severe mental illness diagnoses linked to slightly higher rates of violence – schizophrenia, which is characterized by disorganized thoughts and behavior and perhaps a loss of touch with reality, along with the major mood disorders, bipolar disorder and major depression. The truth is, persons with mental illness are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence.[2] Mental illness does, however, carry an increased risk of violence toward oneself – suicide.[3]

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 10.10.52 PM

We also know that alcohol and drug use and abuse significantly increase risk for violence toward self and others in both mentally ill and non-mentally ill populations.

Mental illness, then, is not the sole cause of school violence. Roughly 1 in 4 people in the U. S. have a diagnosable mental illness and most of them do not feel compelled to act violently.[4] Mental illness is just one risk factor, and the presence of risk factors does not necessarily result in a specific outcome. Many factors are involved in this process.

How can we reliably determine which individuals are at risk for perpetrating violence in our schools?

The practice of threat assessment, developed over the past twenty years, is the tool we use to investigate and determine the level of risk posed by a given individual. Its focus is not on predicting, but on preventing violence.

Quite simply, we can get a glimpse into someone’s mind by observing precisely what the individual says and does. We review all risk factors, behavioral warning signs, and violence inhibitors, to obtain a more complete picture of whether the individual is heading toward violence. Then, we can intervene, get help for the person, and manage the possible threat in a way that will keep others safe. If we find that we do have concerns about the individual’s mental health, this is the time to summon the person’s support system and refer him or her for assistance.

This discussion would not be complete without acknowledging that in the aftermath of a number of school shooting attacks, previously overlooked indicators of undiagnosed mental illness were uncovered.[5] While the incidence of school shooting is rare, and the link between mental illness and violence is tenuous, we always want to watch for signs of possible mental health issues, and attend to them swiftly.

Other risk factors and warning signs of violence include access to weapons, substance use/abuse, noncompliance with psychiatric medication or treatment, fascination/preoccupation with weapons and violence, a commando mentality, holding onto grievances, a model or script for using violence to solve problems, feelings of envy, anger, rage and hopelessness, a sense of being entitled to revenge for a perceived wrong, and a feeling of marginalization from peers. Can a distorted sense of reality or skewed thought patterns be behind some of these factors? Absolutely!

There are also specific protective factors shown to inhibit violence. These may or may not be present in a given individual’s life. It is the totality of the situation that ultimately determines the outcome.

Small steps we can take each day to keep our schools safe include making vital personal connections with our students, fostering a positive, equitable school climate, educating others and ourselves about the risk factors and warning signs of mental illness, suicide, and violence, and keeping a watchful eye on students. We can develop a process in our schools for referral, assessment, and intervention to provide the help our students need. With all of these preventive measures in place, we can trust that we’ve made our schools a much safer place to learn.

This post originally appeared as a guest blog at SafeandSoundSchools.org

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[1] Friedman, Richard A., M.D. The New York Times, December 17, 2012.

[2] Brekke JS, Prindle C, Bae SW, Long JD. Risks for individuals with schizophrenia who are living in the community. Psychiatric Services. 2001; 52(10):1358–1366. [PubMed]

[3] University of Washington School of Social Work http://depts.washington.edu/mhreport/facts_suicide.php

[4] Singh, Pavita, MPH. Huffpost Media, Jan 28, 2016

[5] Langman, Peter. School Shooters: Understanding High School, College, and Adult Perpetrators, Rowan & Littlefield, January 2015

Mass Shooter Contagion

Mass Shooter Contagion

When you review your school safety practices this summer, be sure to consider the phenomenon known as the mass shooter contagion effect.

We’ve already learned that it’s best not to extensively memorialize deaths that were caused by suicide. The reason for this sometimes unpopular practice is that we don’t want to encourage suicide in those individuals who may view it as a method of getting the recognition and sympathy they desire.

There appears to be a similar effect operating with regard to mass shooting incidents. For this reason, we also want to minimize the recognition of mass violence perpetrators.

Dr. Sherry Towers led a research team from Arizona State University to apply a statistical model for detecting contagion in disease to shooting data previously collected by the Brady Campaign and USA Today. The researchers found that mass shootings increased the incidence of similar events within a period of 13 days. It was noted that this effect is present in 30% of mass shootings and 22% of school shootings.

This type of clustering may have roots in a similar copycat effect regarding suicide that was noted by sociologist Dave Phillips in 1974, and termed the Werther Effect. The Werther Effect uses social learning theory to explain that vulnerable individuals may see or hear of the suicide of someone with whom they identify and make a decision, either consciously or unconsciously, that suicide is an appropriate choice for him/her as well. This effect is thought to be responsible for cluster suicides.

Mass shooter contagion and schools

There is some indication that the national media is beginning to review and act on this information. Our job is to do the same in our own schools and communities.

Here’s what we need to do:

  • Make our staff aware of both the suicide and mass shooting contagion effects
  • Become increasingly vigilant when either suicide or violence occur in our geographic area, or anywhere in the world, if there is national media exposure.
  • Train school staff members in the warning signs of suicide and violence. For a list of each, consider taking this free online school safety course, which contains both lists.

If you have found this post helpful, please forward to your friends and colleagues. If you have had this post forwarded to you, you can get your own copy by subscribing here.

School Violence Rates Increase in the Spring

School Violence

In a recent post, I wrote about the reality of higher suicide rates in the Spring. We also need to be exceedingly vigilant about the warning signs of violence during the spring months. Here’s why:

School Violence Rates Increase in the Spring

In my research, I found a total of 100 confirmed injuries or deaths by shooting or stabbing in secondary and post-secondary schools during the months of April and May in the United States. Of course, we want to be vigilant at all times, but even more so during this time of year. Whether the factors responsible for these high springtime rates parallel those involved in increased spring rates of suicide is unclear. Further research may help to clarify the role played by social and biological factors in these high rates of violence.

Below is a list of April and May dates that have witnessed the tragedy of a school shooting (it may not be exhaustive). Some of the incidents have included the suicide of the perpetrator. Because individuals who are contemplating an act of targeted violence often identify with, and wish to emulate, previous attackers, specific dates may be significant to a given individual. Research has established that there is such a thing as a copycat effect, so it’s wise to familiarize your school staff with the dates below. This is a time to be particularly vigilant, especially with persons of concern. If you notice something that causes concern and aren’t sure what to do next, read this.

April 2, 1867, 1921, 2012
April 5, 1975
April 6, 1904, 1918
April 7, 1977, 1982
April 9, 1891, 1952, 2014
April 10, 1996
April 11, 2014
April 12, 1919, 1982, 1887, 1994, 2013
April 13, 2015
April 15, 1908, 1993
April 16, 1974, 1987, 1999, 2007, 2013, 2015
April 17, 1981, 1956, 1984
April 18, 1918, 2013
April 20, 1984, 1961, 1999
April 21, 2014
April 23, 1991
April 24, 1890, 1998, 2003
April 25, 1950
April 26, 1978, 2009
April 27, 1936, 1966, 2015
April 29, 1920
April 30, 1866
May 1, 1920, 1992 (2), 1958
May 4, 1956, 1970, 2014
May 5, 2014
May 6, 1930, 1940
May 7, 1935, 2004
May 8 2014
May 9, 2003
May 12, 2015
May 13, 1969
May 14, 1992 (2), 2013, 2014
May 15, 1920, 1954, 1970
May 16, 1986
May 17, 1889, 1984, 2001
May 18, 1906, 1927, 1979, 2009 (2)
May 19, 1998, 1936
May 20, 1988, 1999
May 21, 1998
May 22, 1930, 1968
May 23, 1940, 2011, 2014
May 24, 1878, 1879, 1979, 1993, 1998, 2015
May 26, 1994, 2000, 2012
May 28,1931

In addition, both the Oklahoma City Bombing and the Boston Marathon Bombing occurred during the spring, on April 19, 1995 and April 15, 2013, respectively.

I would not suggest that you disseminate this information to students or parents but I do recommend reminding all staff and parents that this is a time of year to increase vigilance regarding signs of both suicide and violence.

A Mother’s Reckoning

A Mother's Reckoning

“By telling my story as faithfully as possible, even when it is unflattering to me, I hope to shine a light that will help other parents see past the faces their children present, so that they can get them help if it is needed.”

This is how the book, A Mother’s Reckoning, begins, and it is a  courageous effort that will leave you with a heightened sense of empathy and an emotional mix that eludes a label.

This is how the book begins, but the story begins in another way. It shatters our security and every sense of what we believed, with the unfolding of theretofore-unimagined horror.

Sue Klebold begins her story with the phone call from her husband Tom that changed everything. She takes us on a profound journey from that long horrific day in April 1999 to near-present day. She allows us to know her: to hear her questions, witness her grief, and feel the dawning of her realization that her beloved son did in fact destroy many lives. By sharing so much, we are able to experience perhaps a tiny sliver of her sadness, grief, shame, incomprehension and loss; and come away with an undeniable “there but for the grace of God go I” sentiment that will echo through our days.

Sue Klebold allows us to scrutinize her parenting as she details the life of her son, Dylan. She takes full responsibility for missing signs of a troubled young man. But Dylan was not always troubled. In fact, Sue shows us the Dylan who was gifted, sweet, caring and worked with young children. As she so eloquently states, “the disquieting reality is that behind this heinous atrocity was an easygoing, shy likable young man who came from a ‘good home’.” His parents eschewed guns, were careful about the movies they allowed their sons to watch, and “put them to bed with stories and prayers and hugs.” This offers little comfort to the masses. It exposes the vulnerabilities in all of us.

The reality is that we will never stop all of the suicides or violence in our society, but by being exceedingly aware and vigilant, we can change some outcomes. We can trust our sense of anything at all being “off” and take actions that can help an individual in untold ways. Often, this will interrupt the pathway to suicide or violence. This, after all, is Sue Klebold’s mission, and her hope for all of us.

Regardless of your feelings about the Columbine High School attack, A Mother’s Reckoning is a humbling and enlightening read. I encourage you to make the time to read it. If you’re looking for additional reading material on school safety and violence prevention, you can find my carefully curated reading list here.

Two Types of Violence in Schools

Two types of violence in schools

There are two types of violence in schools: impulsive and targeted. But, only one of them typically ends up on the evening news.

Targeted violence is premeditated and planned over a period of time. Because of the planning and preparation that precede it, this type of violence is considered to be predatory in nature. This is the one that stops us in our tracks when we see it on the news.

Impulsive violence is reactive and may seem to come out of nowhere, or it can be a nearly predictable result of ongoing conflict.

Differences between the two types of violence:

A pioneering study found distinct differences between impulsive and predatory violence, when that violence results in death. Here are some of the findings that can help increase our own awareness:

  • Compared to impulsive murderers, predatory/premeditated murderers are nearly twice as likely to have a history of mood disorders or psychotic disorders — 61 percent versus 34 percent.
  • Compared to predatory/premeditated murderers, impulsive murderers are more likely to be developmentally disabled and have cognitive and intellectual impairments — 59 percent versus 36 percent.
  • Over 90% of the impulsive murderers in this study had a history of alcohol or drug abuse and/or were intoxicated at the time of the crime — 93 percent versus 76 percent of those whose crimes were premeditated.

In schools, we need to be alert for both types of violence. We must pay attention to individuals and specific actions. Only then can we dig deep enough to assess a person’s mindset, coping skills, stressors, and intent to harm others so we can contain and manage the situation before violence takes place. To learn more about this process, see this.

For more on preventing targeted school violence, click here.