School Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management

Abstract

While schools are safer today than in years past, one act of school violence is one too many. Recent reports have conveyed the importance of schools developing and implementing protocols and procedures to prevent or mitigate school violence. To assist with this task, this article addresses behavioral threat assessment and management (BTAM) in the K-12 school setting and the school psychologist’s role in risk and threat assessment. Best practices in establishing a K-12 behavioral threat assessment and management process, including the assessment of risk factors and warning signs, identification of concerns, and follow-up interventions and monitoring are discussed. Ethical and legal considerations are also reviewed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Adrian, M., Miller, A. B., McCauley, E., & Vander Stoep, A. (2016). Suicidal ideation in early to middle adolescence: sex specific trajectories and predictors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57, 645–653. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12484.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Amman, M., Bowlin, M., Buckles, L., Burton, K. C., Brunell, K. F., Gibson, K. A., et al. (2017). Making prevention a reality: identifying, assessing, and managing the threat of targeted attacks. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice Retrieved from: https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/making_prevention_a_reality_identifying_assessing_managing_threats_of_ta.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bailey, K. A. (2001). Legal implications of profiling students for violence. Psychology in the Schools, 38, 141–155. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.1006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Biom v. Fulton County School District. (2007). 494 F.3d 978. No. 06-14706, 06-14732 (11th Cir. 2007). Decided July 31, 2007.

  5. Borum, R., Fein, R., Vossekuil, B., & Berglund, J. (1999). Threat assessment: defining an approach for evaluating risk of targeted violence. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 17, 323–337. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-0798(199907/09)17:3<323::AID-BSL349>3.0.CO;2-G.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Borum, R., Bartel, P., & Forth, A. (2006). Structured assessment of violence risk in youth. Lutz: PAR.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Browning Wright, D. (2008). Restraint issues: intersecting with threat and manifestation determination. Los Angeles: PENT Retrieved from http://www.pent.ca.gov/beh/rst/restraintissues.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Burns, M. K., Dean, V. J., & Jacob-Timm, S. (2001). Assessment of violence potential among school children: beyond profiling. Psychology in the Schools, 38, 239–247. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.1014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate. (2014). Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Hartford, CT: Author. Retrieved from http://www.ct.gov/oca/lib/oca/sandyhook11212014.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Cornell, D. G., & Sheras, P. L. (2006). Guidelines for responding to student threats of violence. Longmont: Sopris West.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Cornell, D. G., Allen, K., & Fan, X. (2012). A randomized control study of the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines in kindergarten through grade 12. School Psychology Review, 41, 100–115. Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/publications/periodicals/spr/volume-41/volume-41-issue-1/a-randomized-controlled-study-of-the-virginia-student-threat-assessment-guidelines-in-kindergarten-through-grade-12.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Crepeau-Hobson, F. (2013). An exploratory study of suicide risk assessment practices in the school setting. Psychology in the Schools, 50, 810–822. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.21705.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Crone, D. A., Hawken, L. S., & Horner, R. H. (2010). Responding to problem behavior in schools: the Behavior Education Program (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. de Becker, G. (1997). The gift of fear. New York: Dell Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  16. de Becker, G. (n.d.). An introduction to threat assessment and management: a confidential white paper report. Studio City: Gavin de Becker & Associates.

  17. de Becker, G., & Associates. (2017). Advanced threat assessment and management academy, Lake Arrowhead, CA.

  18. Deisinger, G., & Randazzo, M. (2017). Integrated threat management: a collaborative approach to identifying, assessing & managing threatening behaviors. Annapolis, MD: Workshop presented to Maryland Center for School Safety.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Disability Rights California. (2011). Information on discipline of students with disabilities. Sacramento, CA: Author. Retrieved from http://www.disabilityrightsca.org/pubs/504001Ch08.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Dwyer, K., Osher, D., & Warger, C. (1998). Early warning, timely response: a guide to safe schools. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED418372.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Erbacher, T. A., Singer, J. B., & Poland. (2015). Suicide in schools: a practitioner's guide to multi-level prevention, assessment, intervention, and postvention (school-based practice in action). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Fein, R., Vossekuil, B., Pollack, W., Borum, R., Modzeleski, W., & Reddy, M. (2004). Threat assessment in schools: a guide to managing threatening situations and to creating safe school climates. Washington, DC: U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education Retrieved from https://www.secretservice.gov/data/protection/ntac/ssi_guide.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Francisco T. V. .2011. the People, CA Solano County (Super. Ct. No. J41032, Nov ).

  24. Goodrum, S., & Woodward, W. (2016). Report on the Arapahoe High School shooting: lessons learned on information sharing, threat assessment, and systems integrity. Denver: Denver Foundation Retrieved from http://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/safeschools/Resources/AHS-reports/CSPV.AHSFullReport.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Gurman, S., Mitchell, K., & Meyer, J. P (2016). Arapahoe High School shooting: gunman intended to harm many at school. The Denver Post. Retrieved from http://www.denverpost.com/2013/12/14/arapahoe-high-school-shooting-gunman-intended-to-harm-many-at-school/.

  26. Hall-Lande, J. A., Eisenberg, M. E., Christenson, S. L., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2007). Social isolation, psychological health, and protective factors in adolescence. Adolescence, 42, 265–286 Retrieved from https://facweb.northseattle.edu/lchaffee/PSY100/Journal%20Articles/Hall-Lande%20et%20al%202007.pdf.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Hutton, T., & Bailey, K. (2007). Effective strategies for creating safer schools and communities: school policies and legal issues supporting safe schools. Hamilton Fish Institute. Retrieved from http://www.councilofcollaboratives.org/files/HFIlegal.pdf.

  28. Kanan, L. M., Nicoletti, J., Garrido, S., & Dvoskina, M. (2016). A review of psychological safety and threat assessment issues related to the shooting at Arapahoe High School. Retrieved from http://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/safeschools/Resources/AHS-reports/LINDAKANAN.AHSFINALREPORT.pdf.

  29. Kann, L., McManus, T., Harris, W. A., Shanklin, S. L., Flint, K. H., Hawkins, J., et al. (2016). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(6), 1–174 Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/2015/ss6506_updated.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Kernsmith, P., & Craun, S. W. (2008). Predictors of weapon use in domestic violence incidents reported to law enforcement. Journal of Family Violence, 23, 589–596. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-008-9181-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Langman, P. (2009). Why kids kill: inside the minds of school shooters. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Langman, P. (2015). School shooters: understanding high school, college, and adult perpetrators. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Lhamon, C. E. (2014). Dear colleague letter. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-bullying-201410.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Lyons, B. H., Fowler, K. A., Jack, S. P., Betz, C. J., & Blair, J. M. (2016). Surveillance for violent deaths—National Violent Death Reporting System, 17 states, 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(SS-10), 1–42. 10.15585/mmwr.ss6510a.

    Google Scholar 

  35. McGowan, M. R., Horn, R. A., & Mellott, R. N. (2011). The predictive validity of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth in secondary educational settings. Psychological Assessment, 23, 478–486. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022304.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Meloy, J. R. (2013). The seven myths of mass murder. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/blogs/couch-crisis/seven-myths-mass-murder.

  37. Meloy, J. R., & White, S. (2016). The WAVR-21—workplace assessment of violence risk (3rd ed.). San Diego: Specialized Training Services.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Meloy, J. R., Hoffmann, J., Guldimann, A., & James, D. (2011). The role of warning behaviors in threat assessment: an exploration and suggested typology. Behavior Sciences and the Law, 30, 256–279. https://doi.org/10.1002/bsl.999.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Meloy, J. R., Hoffmann, J., Roshdi, K., & Guldimann, A. (2014). Some warning behaviors discriminate between school shooters and other students of concern. Journal of Threat Assessment and Management, 1(3), 203–211. https://doi.org/10.1037/tam0000020.

  40. Meloy, J. R., Mohandie, K., Knoll, J., & Hoffmann, J. (2015). The concept of identification in threat assessment. Behavior Sciences and the Law, 33, 213–223. https://doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. National Association of School Psychologists. (2010). Model for comprehensive and integrated school psychological services. Bethesda, MD: Author. Retrieved from https://www.nasponline.org/Documents/Standards%20and%20Certification/Standards/2_PracticeModel.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Nicoletti, J., & Spencer-Thomas, S. (2002). Violence goes to school. Bloomington: National Education Service.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Pace V. Talley, No. 05-30528 (5th Cir. Nov. 21, 2006).

  44. Robers, S., Kemp, J., Rathbun, A., & Morgan, R. E. (2014). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2013 (NCES 2014-042/NCJ 243299). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Ryan-Arrendondo, Renouf, K., Egyed, C., Doxey, M., Dobbins, M., Sanchez, S., & Rakowitz, B. (2001). Threats of violence in schools: the Dallas Independent School District's Response. Psychology in the Schools, 38, 185–196. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.1009.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Safe Havens International. (2016). Post-incident review: Arapahoe High School active-shooter incident. Macon, GA: Author. Retrieved from http://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/safeschools/Resources/AHS-reports/SafeHavensInstitute.AHSPost-IncidentReview.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. (2015). Final report of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. Hartford, CT: Author. Retrieved from: http://www.shac.ct.gov/SHAC_Final_Report_3-6-2015.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Shuman V. Penn Manor School District, No. 04-2715 (3d Cir. Sept. 7, 2005).

  49. Singh, J. P., Grann, M., & Fazel, S. (2011). A comparative study of violence risk assessment tools: a systematic review and metaregression analysis of 68 studies involving 25,980 participants. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 499–513. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2010.11.009.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  50. Skalski, A. K., Minke, K., Rossen, E., Cowan, K. C., Kelly, J., Armistead, R., & Smith, A. (2015). NASP practice model implementation guide. Bethesda: National Association of School Psychologists Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/standards-and-certification/nasp-practice-model/nasp-practice-model-implementation-guide.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Snyder, T. D., & Dillow, S. A. (2013). Digest of education statistics 2012 (NCES 2014-015). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2014015.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Strand, S. (2012). Using a restraining order as a protective risk management strategy to prevent intimate partner violence. Police Practice & Research: An International Journal, 13, 254–266. https://doi.org/10.1080/15614263.2011.607649.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Tarasoff V. Regents of the University of California, 17 Cal. 3d 425, 551 P.2d 334, 131 Cal. Rptr. 14 (Cal. 1976).

  54. The Estate of Montana Lance et al. v. Kyer et al., No. 4:11-cv-00032 (5th Cir, Texas Eastern, Sept 13, 2011).

  55. U.S. Department of Education. (2013). Guide for developing high-quality school emergency operations plans. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://rems.ed.gov/docs/REMS_K-12_Guide_508.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  56. United States v. Orozco-Santillan, 903 F.2d 1262, 1265 (9th Cir.1990). Retrieved from http://openjurist.org/903/f2d/1262/united-states-v-orozco-santillan.

  57. Vossekuil, B., Reddy, M., Fein, R., Borum, R., & Modzeleski, W. (2002). The final report and findings of the safe school initiative: implications for the prevention of school attacks in the United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education Retrieved from http://www.nccpsafety.org/assets/files/library/Prevention_of_School_Attacks.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Wisniewski v. Bd. of Ed. Weedsport (US 2nd Circuit, July 5, 2007).

  59. Witsell et al. (2011). v. School Board of Hillsborough County, Florida, No. 8:2011cv00781—document 18 (M.D. Fla.).

  60. Zhang, A., Musu-Gillette, L., & Oudekerk, B.A. (2016). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2015 (NCES 2016-079/NCJ 249758). National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://www.ct.gov/oca/lib/oca/sandyhook11212014.pdf.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Melissa A. Louvar Reeves.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of both authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Louvar Reeves, M.A., Brock, S.E. School Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management. Contemp School Psychol 22, 148–162 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40688-017-0158-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • Violence
  • Threat assessment
  • Risk factors
  • Warning signs
  • Intervention