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Secret Service advocates threat assessment over active shooter drills


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#1 Euler

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Posted 27 November 2019 - 06:11 PM

NPR

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Many schools are turning to highly visible "hardened" security measures. For example, at least eight states now have laws mandating active shooter drills in schools. But there's little research yet that shows that those drills are effective. Meanwhile, a new comprehensive report from the U.S. Secret Service underlines the agency's previous findings that there is one safety approach that does work: threat assessment, as part of a comprehensive program of social and emotional support for students.
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The investigators combed databases for as many incidents as they could find in which a current or recently former student brought a weapon to a K-12 school and harmed someone. They excluded drug- or gang-related incidents. They identified 41 targeted school attacks from 2008 to 2017.

According to the report, 83% of the attacks were over in five minutes or less. And 68% of the schools already had a lockdown procedure in place making it the most common security measure among schools in the report. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean a lockdown didn't limit the scope of an attack.

It's also worth noting, since much of the concern over lockdown drills looks at their impact on the youngest children, that only one of the targeted attacks in the report took place at an elementary school.

The report's lead author, Lina Alathari, ... defines threat assessment as a proactive approach in which schools "identify students who are doing concerning behavior or may be in distress and getting them the help they need before they even resort to violence as an option."

One common source of distress, according to the report, is bullying and ostracism. Four out of five of these attackers were bullied at school, and in most cases the bullying was severe and took place over a long time period. Attackers were much more likely to be victims than perpetrators of bullying, although that was fairly common as well.

In the aftermath of the Columbine attack in 1999, in which two Colorado students killed 13 people at their high school and injured more than 20 others before taking their own lives, the Secret Service published its first review of similar incidents. Back then, 71% of attackers had been bullied. Since then, Alathari says, "it's interesting": Despite two decades of anti-bullying legislation, anti-bullying assemblies and anti-bullying curricula in schools, today the incidence is even higher.
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Alathari emphasizes that targeted attacks of this kind are extremely rare. The new report excluded attacks that seemed to be related to drugs, gang violence or disputes that merely spilled over onto school property. They were left with an average of four shootings or stabbings per year across hundreds of thousands of schools, and the report found no upward trend in the frequency or severity of attacks over time. ...


The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.

- Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, 1960.


#2 ILgunguy

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Posted 28 November 2019 - 01:23 PM

Threat assessment and drills are two totally different things. One does not have to be put into practice to the exclusion of the other.

Yes, there should be threat assessment as a proactive step. Anything that can be done to mitigate danger should be done. Active shooter drills and responses are for when threat assessment has failed. Whomever started the idea that active shooter drills prevent active shootings was missing something.

And then I propose that teachers and even some students (I would say high school) can/should be trained in Stop-the-Bleed skills. Most high schools in IL have some kind of first-aid or responding to emergency class, so basic tourniquet use and controlling blood loss would fit in easily. While threat assessment is on-going and most active shootings are over in 5 minutes or less, it takes too long to get medical aid to the wounded. People on scene are the true first responders in that case.

Lessening the lives lost needs a comprehensive approach - before, during, after. Any other conversation only addresses one part of the issue and in my opinion is not a good use of time.

Edited by ILgunguy, 28 November 2019 - 01:27 PM.

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