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Student Threat Assessments Checklist


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Student Threat Assessments and School Safety

More states are requiring schools to update their safety plans to account for student threat assessments—a more proactive measure of identifying and addressing threats made by students to themselves or others. Prominent organizations in the field of threat assessment—including the National Association of School Psychologists and the United States Secret Service—offer some guidelines for schools to adopt to be better prepared to manage student threats.

    • Form multi-disciplinary threat assessment team.
      • Identify key personnel at each school that would be involved with investigating threats made by students to self or others – team should include principal, school counselor, school health lead, and others (long tenured teachers, etc.)
    • Define concerning or prohibited behaviors.
      • Clearly outline behaviors that would trigger a threat assessment – these might include verbal threats (using specific trigger words), acts of bullying or violence, written or social media threats, including key phrases, etc.
    • Provide a central reporting mechanism.
      • List, communicate, and reinforce all channels that can be used to report potential threats by other students and staff – these might include anonymous tip line, web forms, smartphone apps, reports to counselor, etc.
    • Clearly define threshold for law enforcement intervention.
      • Define ‘transient’ or lower severity threats versus ‘substantive’ or higher-level threats and list examples for each type.
      • Comprehensive list of behaviors or actions that would require escalation to local law enforcement – eliminate “gray” area for making decisions to involve authorities.
    • Establish investigative procedures.
      • Detail the steps the threat assessment team will take to investigate each threat – should include interviews with other students, teachers, coaches, parents, etc. around the student making threats.
    • Research risk management options.
      • Identify steps needed to address the problem or conflict underlying the threat and prevent the act of violence from taking place.
    • Implement safe climate culture best practices.
      • Ensure the school pays attention to fostering safety; promoting a supportive academic, disciplinary, and physical environment; and encouraging and maintaining respectful, trusting, and caring relationships throughout the school community.
    • Adhere to regimented training practices.
      • Schedule time throughout the year to drill and practice different responses to different threats.
    • Follow best practices to support school threat assessments.
      • Take steps to make students comfortable enough to reach out to a school administrator with concerning information.
      • Establish and maintain alignment between schools and local law enforcement.
      • Utilize technology that supports a collaborative investigation, efficiency in completing required forms, and comprehensive reporting.

Recommend Content

For additional tips and best practices for implementing a prepared student threat assessment process at your district and schools, check out the below resources.

Streamline Student Threat Assessments with Technology

Watch this short video to see how technology can streamline the process and approach for student threat assessments.