Prevention and Intervention: An Understanding of Behavioral Threat Assessments
From the Director
Welcome to the July 2020 issue of the NSBA Center for Safe School’s Quarterly Newsletter, a benefit of your subscription.
As school districts work on returning in the fall, reopening district offices, and resuming in-person services, questions abound about what that will look like. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an ever-growing list of new challenges for our schools and communities. With empty buildings and campuses, the emphasis is on distance learning, not on crisis preparation. However, there will come a time when teachers, students, and staff return to campus and, hopefully, a return to what will be the new normal.
As schools focus on how to safely return and adhere to guidelines like social distancing, wearing masks, and cleaning recommendations, they must also not lose sight of additional school safety procedures that have been growing in importance. The Final Report of the Federal Commission on School Safety outlines steps and recommendations to prevent, protect and mitigate, and respond to school crisis and potential tragedies. With this in mind, emergency management is the detection, prevention, and management of critical events and emergencies. By working together, schools and community partners can focus on crisis and emergency preparedness, including efforts to build a positive, prevention-based, school culture. This issue will focus on one key area aligned to mitigating the risk of school violence: behavioral threat assessments.
The challenges our students, families, and communities face are significant and real. We are seeing increased exposure to traumatic situations and increased mental health concerns. Our students need support more than ever. As schools continue to plan to return, it is important to have procedures and protocols in place to accurately assess and support their students. Behavioral threat assessments are an invaluable tool in this process, providing schools with the steps to identify students who may be in crisis and provide them with the holistic supports they desperately need.
Additionally, current events have shown us that we cannot ignore that institutional racism is rooted in our country. Our education system is no different. It is crucial that schools are fully aware of what behavioral threat assessments are, and what they are not. Schools must also have a clear understanding of their practices to ensure they are done equitably and with fidelity.
We hope the articles and resources in this issue help to deepen your understanding of behavioral threat assessments and the steps that our schools and districts can take. Please reach out with any questions or comments using the online discussion group to engage other subscribers from around the country or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your continued interest and commitment to helping foster safe schools for all our students and district employees.
Director, NSBA Center for Safe Schools