I have had the privilege to speak about student safety at numerous Education conferences in the USA, Canada, South Korea and Japan over the past 5 years, and no matter where I am speaking, there is one question that produces the same audience response.
The question and my response would go something like this…
While sharing evidence-based data on student safety and reviewing lessons learned from tragic incidents like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Marysville-Pilchuck and other mass shootings and violence, I use post-event reports to reveal common grievances and concerning behaviors displayed by at-risk individuals BEFORE they executed their acts of evil.
Most of the data within post-event reports is gathered from interviews with teachers, counselors and administrators…as well as family, friends and community members.
As I am wrapping up the evidence-based data and lessons learned part of the presentation, I ask the room full of teachers, counselors and administrators if they are aware of any at-risk students in their schools who have displayed similar concerning behaviors. In every presentation, the overwhelming majority of the audience acknowledged they are aware of at-risk students with similar concerning behaviors AND have concerns about the future actions of some of their students.
This overwhelming acknowledgement in presentation after presentation around the world is a huge INDICATOR! And this overwhelming acknowledgement can be a world changer! (keep reading)
Next I ask my audience a couple follow up questions involving the concerning behaviors they have observed:
Did you make an incident report? (Most did not make an incident report…keep reading)
If you did make an incident report, what happened? (Most said nothing happened or support and follow up disappeared after an initial response…keep reading)
Then I would offer the world changer question…
What if teachers, counselors and administrators had reported their concerning behaviors at Columbine? At Sandy Hook? At Marysville-Pilchuck? And hundreds of other school tragedies?
I answered the “What if” questions using findings and data from post-event reports that clearly found most tragedies could have been prevented:
IF all of the PRE-INCIDENT INDICATORS had been reported, collected and shared with a trained Threat Assessment Team (TAT) or Community-based Threat Assessment Team (CTAT).
And IF the TAT and/or CTAT would have been equipped with the right tools to assess the at-risk individuals’ behaviors and the right tools to connect all the INDICATORS to effectively intervene and monitor at-risk individuals and prevent them from escalating towards an act of evil.
Think of it this way…when you have several pieces of a puzzle, it is possible to see the bigger picture of what puzzle will be. Another way to think of it is the more “dots and indicators” you have to assess and connect, the easier it is to identify patterns and trends so you can take pre-active actions.
Why do I share my presentation experiences and this world changing suggestion with you?
Because the post-event reports from the terror attacks in Paris reveal AGAIN how teachers (and counselors) observed PRE-INCIDENT INDICATORS that could have helped PREVENT an at-risk student from escalating towards mass shootings, violence and a very costly community tragedy in Paris.
As you can see in the article link below, teachers observed concerning behaviors of a student who turned from soccer and girls to hanging out with radical friends, praising Charlie Hebdo attack, changing his name, posing with a jihadist flag on his Facebook page and going to Syria…and he became one of the Paris attackers.
The INDICATORS were observed by TEACHERS who notified their principal who sent an email to an education official…and then… NOTHING HAPPENED.
Sound familiar? I hear similar responses from audiences in USA, Canada, South Korea and Japan.
This very tragic and costly disconnect is one of the many reasons a world changing “community-based prevention platform” is so critically needed:
• It offers a central, secure, confidential, anonymous and easy way for teachers, counselors and administrators (as well as students, friends, family and community members) to make an incident report when they observe concerning behaviors of at-risk individuals.
• It automatically and immediately notifies appropriate individuals AND it provides legal and audit-ready “accountability” to make sure individuals are aware of the incident report
• It provides secure information sharing and “accountability” capabilities to ensure appropriate and required third-party resources and authorities – law enforcement, intelligence agencies, etc. – have been notified and can immediately assist with assessing, intervening and preventing
• It provides tools for TAT and CTAT members to perform behavior assessments, measure and monitor changes and escalation identified by behavior assessments performed over time
• It provides a central secure platform for collecting additional information discovered by investigations, interviews, social media postings, etc. and a secure information sharing with TAT, CTAT and other community and third-party resources
• It provides critically needed tools for monitoring at-risk individuals and securely sharing information with other community and intelligence resources if at-risk individuals move so they do not fall through the cracks
Teachers are changing the world with their teaching, and teachers can be world changers with their observations of “concerning behaviors” IF school administrators equip teachers, students and community members with a “community-based prevention platform” to eliminate dangerous disconnects and gaps revealed in Paris and revealed by audiences around the world.
To see Awareity’s community-based prevention platform in action, click here.