WASHINGTON – The US Secret Service has developed a guide designed to reduce violence at schools by identifying students of concern, assessing their risk for engaging in violence and identifying strategies to reduce that risk.
On Thursday, the agency released "An Operational Guide for Preventing Targeted School Violence" that includes the following eight steps for schools to follow.
- Establish a threat assessment team – teachers, coaches, administrators and school resource officers who can direct, manage and document the threat assessment process.
- Define behaviors that should trigger immediate intervention, such as making threats, committing violent acts and bringing weapons on campus.
- Create a reporting system like a form on the school's website or app that ensures anonymity to people reporting concerns. School personnel should monitor it and follow up on every tip or concern.
- Establish a threshold for when law enforcement will get involved.
- Establish procedures for maintaining documentation, reviewing records and conducting interviews. The Secret Service suggests those procedures should include a guide on how to identify motives, stressors and access to weapons of students who pose a potential threat.
- Develop risk management options – that is, create plans to manage and defuse risks. Police should be notified immediately if a student is contemplating an attack.
- Create and promote a safe school climate. Schools are encouraged to promote communication, intervene in conflicts and bullying and empower students to share any concerns.
- Provide training to school personnel, students, parents and law enforcement.
The report states schools should employ a low threshold for intervention to best intercept students in distress before they become a safety concern.
The Secret Service is continuing to work on school safety and plans to release an updated study next spring.