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There's No Single Profile of a Violent Student, Secret Service Says in New Report

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Guest post by Andrew Ujifusa

Students who pose a safety threat to schools can be male or female, socially isolated or popular, and academic stars or poor performers—in other words, they don't fit one single stereotype.

That's one key takeaway from a new report on school safety by the U.S. Secret Service. "Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model" states that trying to identify potentially violent students based on their personalities could miss potential threats. 

Instead, the report states schools should focus on "working through the threat assessment process, which is designed to gather the most relevant information about a student's communications and behaviors, the negative or stressful events the student has experienced, and the resources the student possesses to overcome these setbacks and challenges."

The Secret Service also recommends that among other actions, schools:

  • establish a multidisciplinary threat assessment team that meets regularly and establishes regular procedures.
  • define thresholds for interventions. 
  • create a central reporting system to deal with threats. 

Earlier this year, we looked at what thwarted plans to commit violence at schools can teach educators and others. As Evie Blad wrote, experts stress the importance of "intervening with students in crisis before they develop an intent to harm others, creating an environment where students feel safe and comfortable reporting concerns about their peers, and developing systems to respond quickly to threats."

Much attention has been paid to the behavior of a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who is on trial for murdering 17 students and staff at the school in February. 

Read the full report below:

Photo: School-based police officers Danny Avalos, foreground, and Craig Davis, center, monitor a hallway at E.L. Furr High School in Houston in 2013. --Michael Stravato/The New York Times-File

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