Over the past two days, I’ve outlined some of the complexities inherent in the first two phases of behavioral threat assessment – identification and assessment – and how these need to be applied in support of school violence prevention programs.

Today, I want to focus briefly on the final phase: managing both the subject and the risks that he or she poses to the target and the school.  Key steps in this regard include:

  1. Developing a plan that moves the student away from viewing violence as a viable option;
  2. Implementing this plan while simultaneously allowing adaptation as key aspects of the subject’s life and circumstances change; and,
  3. Closing the case once all risks of violence and harm have been properly mitigated and resolved.

The critical issue here – and this holds just as true for schools and students as it does for individuals threatening the U.S. President: every case is different.  The most appropriate courses of action depend on factors such as the urgency of the threat-related circumstances, case history, information known and available about the individual whose behavior or statements are raising concerns.  Another factor driving the school’s choices is the likelihood – based on past cases – that a given strategy or tactic will be effective at either changing the beliefs, behaviors or life circumstances of the threatening individual or otherwise mitigating the risk of violence. With situations like this, timing can be absolutely critical.  Protection, of course, is always paramount. But move too quickly and you can undermine your options to ensure the safety of those in harm’s way – or the troubled subjects themselves – in the future. One of the most effective strategies that schools can take involves creating a ‘safety net’ – populated by many of the most important people in potential attacker’s life.  By drawing a circle of communications around him or her – integrating the perspectives of specialists in many different disciplines – experts can set up, in effect, a ‘zone defense,’ one that can be monitored very closely over time. As our Act #24, we dedicate ourselves to help ensure that the Management phase of threat assessment undertaken by schools and their threat assessment teams is well supported through a range of strategies, tactics and countermeasures that have proven highly effective in comparable cases in the past resulting in a safer school environment for our children.

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