Threat Identification and Assessment Programs in Schools
What does it solve?
The most important thing that schools can do to prevent active shooter incidents—and gun violence overall—is to intervene before a person commits an act of violence. Threat assessment and identification programs allow schools to intervene to address potential violent behavior.
Threat assessment programs help keep guns out of schools. These programs help schools identify students who are at risk of committing violence and resolve these incidents by getting the students the help they need. Effective programs work to identify threats, determine if a student has access to guns, and ensure that there are enough professionals available to provide students with mental health services. Threat assessment programs are a critical part of comprehensive school safety plans.
How it works
Threat assessment programs help schools intervene to stop violent behavior.
Threat assessment teams are unanimously recommended by school safety experts including the federal Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Education, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The programs generally consist of multidisciplinary teams that are specifically trained to intervene at the earliest warning signs of potential violence and divert those who would do harm to themselves or others to appropriate treatment. These evidence-based programs are not designed to rely on discipline or the criminal justice system, and proper implementation is key to prevent undue harm to students of color or students with disabilities.
A model program is The Comprehensive Student Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG), formerly known as the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines, which was created by Dr. Dewey Cornell at the University of Virginia. CSTAG is a national leader in school-based threat assessment. The program is also listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.
By the numbers
100 percent of mass school shooters were current or former students.
Several studies have found that schools that have used threat assessment programs see as few as 0.5 to 3.5 percent of students carry out a threat of violence or attempt to, with none of the threats that were carried out being serious threats to kill, shoot, or seriously injure someone.