Real Strategies to Stem Violence

Real Strategies to Stem Violence

In the wake of the terrible mass shooting in Orlando, the national conversation about gun control has begun anew. Fear is a great motivator. So, we’re talking again (or still) about what can be done to break this seemingly never-ending tide of violence.

There are some great strategies for reducing violence, but they are not those we hear about most often in the news. If you are working this summer to make your school safer, here is what you can do.

Real Strategies to Stem Violence

Worried about mass shootings? […]  investing in threat assessment and intervention programs is probably more valuable than trying to fortify your local elementary school or hiring armed guards.

This quote comes from a recent article in The Guardian, by Lois Beckett. Lois has done the research and points out that there are a number of promising and effective solutions to violence that have nothing to do with gun control. There’s more:

“Mark Follman, a Mother Jones reporter who has led a project on mass shootings, has examined a different approach: threat assessment. Analysis shows there are often several missed chances to intervene before a mass shooting and researchers found the “weeks, months, or even years when a would-be killer is escalating toward violence are a window of opportunity in which he can be detected and thwarted”.

While this is not the only strategy suggested by Lois Beckett (a focus on various aspects of domestic violence, gangs, gun restrictions for certain populations, and suicide prevention are others), I am elated and hopeful whenever I see the practice of threat assessment and intervention mentioned.

It is a solid practice for preventing violence, and it is vastly underutilized.

If you’re still not sure what violence threat assessment is all about (and many people aren’t), read this now.

If you’d like to learn more about Mark Follman’s research on preventing mass shooting, you can see my interview with him here.

I have upcoming violence threat assessment team trainings and coaching sessions scheduled in multiple states this fall. To learn more about bringing this important training to your area, simply contact me here.

Free Online School Safety Course

The free online school safety course, SafeAware© Increase Your School’s Safety in 5 Easy Steps is now open for registration! This course will take you through 5 easy-to-implement strategies to significantly improve your school’s safety in just one day. The course takes less than 30 minutes to complete and includes downloadable handouts and links to additional resources. You can access it here.

Effective staff training

If you’re looking for a way to get your entire school’s staff on board with 6 key areas of school safety, check out the SafeAware© Everyday School Safety online course. You can access it here.

Finally, these additional SafeAware© school safety courses are in development:
  • Violence Threat Assessment
  • Suicide & Violence Prevention for Parents

If there are specific topics you’d like to see offered in future courses, I’d love to hear from you. Simply contact me here with your suggestions.

The Problem with Threat Assessment Checklists

The Problem with Threat Assessment ChecklistsThere are a number of violence threat assessment checklists and tools available to guide an assessment of someone who may pose a danger to him/herself or others. In fact, it is vital that we use such tools to ensure that we are gathering the most relevant data on an individual’s history, social supports, past and current behaviors, possible threats, mental health, and a number of other variables. Yet, there is a problem with violence threat assessment checklists.

Checklists alone will not answer all of our questions.

A checklist cannot clearly tell us what type of risk is posed by a person others avoid because they feel nervous and fearful around him or her. A checklist won’t explain what’s happening we feel discomfort or unease, but can’t put our finger on the reason.

To perform a thorough violence threat assessment, we need to have a keen understanding of what the threats and behaviors mean to the person of concern. We should be familiar with the violence escalation process. We must have a number of trained professionals at the table to gather missing data and interpret the findings of our assessment. We’ll want to be cognizant of the group dynamics that can affect our assessment. We need to practice our threat assessment skills.

The stakes of assessing violence risk are high, and to minimize risk and liability, we need to develop the skills necessary to do so as effectively and accurately as possible. Equally important, we’ll sleep better at night knowing we are using a solid practice based on the exact model used by the Secret Service and FBI to assess and manage threats.

Checklists are important, and there are a number of excellent tools available to you. But, they should not stand alone. Your threat assessment skills will be much better if you obtain adequate training and practice before using them. The tools will guide your inquiry, but much will be missed without a deeper knowledge of the threat assessment process, risk factors and warning signs associated with targeted violence.

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