Do we need guns on campus or more guidance counselors?
Issue 6 | Volume 4 | 2015
SPOTLIGHT TOPIC - ARMED INTRUDERS
A multi-disciplinary threat assessment team is an important element of a well-prepared school. Do you have a clearly identified and prepared group in place to receive reports, assess risks and develop intervention and management strategies to mitigate that risk? If you do, does that team have a specifically designated leader and include personnel from a variety of disciplines including teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, school resource officers, mental health professionals and school administrators?
Schools should establish one or more reporting mechanisms that are accessible for their community including an option to pass information along anonymously). Has your school created a central reporting mechanism? Is a team member charged with proactively monitoring all incoming reports and respond immediately when someone is concerned about the safety of themselves or others?
The best prepared institutions define prohibited behaviors that are unacceptable and warrant immediate intervention. They also have policies in place that identify behaviors that may not be indicative of violence, but do warrant some type of intervention and support. How do you very specifically define prohibited and concerning behavior in your school?
It is very possible that the vast majority of incidents can be handled by your school personnel. However, reports regarding student behavior involving weapons, threats of violence, physical violence, or concerns about an individual’s safety should immediately be reported to local law enforcement.
SPOTLIGHT TOPIC - STUDENT TRAVEL
Have you the determined the threshold for law enforcement intervention in your school? Has that threshold taken into consideration any onsite school resource officers, should they be regularly engaged by your school.
Clearly defined procedures should guide each threat assessment so that your team forms an accurate picture of the student’s thinking, behavior and circumstances. What are your established threat assessment procedures?
After evaluating whether a student is at risk of violence, an individualized management plan should be developed to reduce the student’s risk for engaging in violence and make positive outcomes more likely. Threat assessment teams will often determine a student is not currently at risk for engaging in violence but requires monitoring, guidance, or resources such as peer support programs, counseling, life skills classes, tutoring or mental health care (teams may need to partner with the community for some of these resources). How well have you developed, multi-dimensional and multi-tiered risk management options?
A crucial component of preventing targeted school violence relies on developing positive school climates built on a culture of safety, respect, trust and social/emotional support. Staff members should support diversity, encourage communication, intervene in conflicts and work to prevent bullying and teasing. Students should feel empowered to share concerns with adults. Does your school have an unwavering commitment to creating and promoting a healthy school climate, one that encourages student involvement? Do you have enough well trained guidance counselors on staff?
Students, teachers, staff, school resource officers and parents should be trained on recognizing behaviors of concern; their roles and responsibilities in reporting the behavior; and how to report the information. Identifying training needs for every stakeholder who could come forward with concerning information or who might be involved in the threat assessment process in schools is essential Do you prioritize conduct training for all stakeholders?
Did you miss the Paul Larosa podcast? He is an FBI trained criminal profiler, expert in working with schools in the identification of potential active shooters and partnering in the prevention of armed intruder scenarios. He works for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO THE RIGHT TO LISTEN TO PAUL'S INFORMATIVE SESSION.
The Bolles School is a college preparatory day and boarding school in Jacksonville, Florida. It has a lower school, a middle school, and a high school, spread across four campuses around the Jacksonville area, and enrolls about 1,800 students a year. This multi-campus system creates a great many safety & security challenges.
Bolles employs an extensive security team as well as contracts with an outside group to keep its people safe and campuses secure. To achieve this goal, it takes not just the security staff, but the entire faculty, staff, students and parents working together. The safety, security, and transportation functions are led by a full-time Director.
The Director of Safety, Security & Transportation manages all aspects of the security and transportation department. Ensures a safe and secure environment on all campuses for all students, faculty, staff, parents, and visitors.
The first documented school shooting was at the University of Virginia in 1847.
There have been 111 school shootings since 1970. (New York Times)
Over 90% of all schools hold active shooter or armed intruder training for their faculty and staff.
More than 215,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine.
35% of parents fear for their child's safety at school, up from 24% in 2017. (2018 Gallup Poll)
A near-record-high 20% of parents say their child has expressed fears about going to schools. (2018 Gallup Poll)
Presence of security guards or assigned police officers increased in schools between 1999 (54%) and 2015 (70%).
About 60% of teachers describe their schools as "very" or "somewhat" prepared and protected. (National Center for Educational Statistics)
Use of security cameras increased between 2001 (39%) from 2015 (83%)
Locked entrance or exit doors during the day increased between 1999 (38%) and 2015 (78%).
According to a report by the Department of Education and the Secret Service, almost 100 percent of active shooters experienced or perceived a major loss before their attack; 78 percent had a history of suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts; and 71 percent felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others.
54% of security professionals said that propped or unlocked doors led to a breach in security at their facility. (Security Management Daily)
Sadly, mass shootings and school shootings have become a common occurrence in our society. While we must never accept them as an unavoidable reality, we must prepare best for the safety of our citizens and children. The names of schools and towns have now become sad reminders of the terrors that took place there. Parkland, Columbine, and Sandy Hook need no further description in the mind of school administrators and students alike.
The factors that contribute to these acts are too varied to ever be truly addressed by any single solution. One common moment that is shared among all these horrific events is when the shooter comes face to face with their victims. This exact moment is the last chance to stop their intended violence and save a life. The only way to accomplish this is to place a bullet stopping mechanism between them. One capable of truly stopping any bullet the assailant might have chosen that day.
The concept of “bulletproof” items is not new. We see our police and military forces utilizing bulletproof vests daily. Some have suggested items like bulletproof backpacks for children stating that they would provide the same level of protection. Issues arise though as these items cannot stop the horrific assault rifle rounds that these shooters have chosen as their weapons of choice. Protection that does not stop the threat is just a heavy backpack.
Other attempts at providing ballistic barriers are mobile chalkboards and whiteboards that double as ballistic shields. While these items can provide the proper level of protection, they weigh hundreds of pounds and are quite difficult to move quickly in a crowded classroom of scared individuals. Their mobile nature works against them as they can be moved by the attacker as well. It would be a shame to have persons killed or injured in a classroom containing one of these items that could not be moved to the correct position rapidly enough to stop or contain the attacker.
Replacing the door to the classroom with a ballistic door capable of stopping all bullets of the shooter will ensure that they cannot engage the targets in the room. Any door must be able to stop all threats while remaining usable by all persons daily. A heavy door will simply be propped open by teachers and students who quickly tire of opening and closing the mass. Again, highlighting the weakest point in any security system, the people who use it. All functions of the door must be maintained and familiar to all occupants, while fitting in with standard lockdown procedures. A door that accomplishes this provides a definitive solution that will function easily and be used properly while under duress.
Providing our students and teachers with the basic ballistic protection afforded the police who will respond is necessary for their survival, just like our officers. It is not possible to have students wear bulletproof vests every day, but we can put the ballistic answer in an easy to use, common place where most shootings occur. The level of security required can be accomplished without turning our schools in to prisons. Previous shooting incidents show that the largest concentration of deaths occur when students are trapped in a classroom by a shooter in the doorway. We now have the technology to give them this chance. It is way overdue that we afford them the basic protection they deserve.
Kirk Ferguson is Director Special Projects for R2P Innovations, a manufacturer of ballistic doors now used in schools. He has a true passion for protecting his fellow citizens. Kirk served 25 years in the Army, with 23 years in special operations. He served in nine combat rotations in multiple theaters and countless deployments to train and advise in foreign countries. Mr. Ferguson has dedicated himself to applying two and half decades of knowledge of enemy tactics, security and ballistics to help stop the scourge of mass shootings in the US and the world by providing real solutions.
Many of you have asked for some content relating to summer programs and preparation. Last month (April) we shared this video message and the resource materials below with you to help you think about some important aspects of summer planning
The confidence afforded to students and teachers alike, that they truly have a means of survival in a shooting, will act as an anxiety reducer. The helpless feeling of waiting to die when a shooter is roaming the halls will be gone. Simply close and lock the door and you can be confident that you are truly safe. While all other security procedures are excellent at reducing incidents or responding after they occur, providing true ballistic protection to people in an active shooter scenario is the only one that will save lives once a shooter enters the building.
Bus Driver Training (Big Back Pack)
Facility Usage Policy Template (Big Back Pack)
First Aid CPR Training (American Red Cross)
Orienting Your Camp Nurse: Tips for Success (ACA)
Risk & Compliance: Wage and Hour Laws Don’t Go on Summer Vacation (NBOA)
Safety & Security: Summer Safety Checklist (NBOA)
Safety at Summer Camp (Darkness to Light)
Staff Training and Preparation - American Camp Association (ACA)
The Top Four Challenges Organizations Face When Screening Volunteers and Staff (Praesidium)
Summer is Coming - Be Prepared!
"The only responsibility a teacher should have during a school shooting is ensuring the safety of the students in their classroom. Period. They should be barricading doors to ensure the shooter can’t enter and leading the students by example as they implement active shooter lockdown procedures."
Matt Martin - Matt is a former Army Sergeant and infantry team leader. He was wounded twice in Afghanistan, receiving two Purple Heart medals as well as the Army Commendation Medal.
GUNS OR GUIDANCE COUNSELORS?
In 1847, the nation's first school shooting occurred at the University of Virginia. The Charlottesville Republican confirmed the details: John Davis, a beloved professor, "was shot by an unknown hand, with a pistol, in front of his dwelling" and "the ball was received just below the navel." Davis died. A manhunt ensued for his killer who, it was ultimately determined, had taken his own life.
Today’s headlines and statistics are overwhelming. CNN reports that there have been 288 school shootings in the last decade alone. Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland are etched in our memories forever. Respected studies confirm that 9 in 10 schools now conduct active shooter or armed intruder drills and that 87 bills were passed nationwide to address school safety this past year alone. The percentage of schools with a security guard, resource officer, or other sworn law enforcement officer on campus at least once a week has exploded to nearly 60 percent.
Our schools have become ground zero for law enforcement interdiction and paramilitary training. Take, for example, Florida’s Manatee School for the Arts, which has hired two combat veterans to serve as “guardians” for the school, each equipped with a Kel-Tec semi-automatic rifle and a Glock handgun. Few developments, planned or not, have had a greater impact on education than our response to potential armed intruders. Yes, we are taking this issue seriously; but are we addressing safety (managing unintentional risks) and security (preparing for intentional threats) comprehensively? I am convinced that we are not.
The Office of Homeland Security advises that all schools need in-house safety committees. But are we leveraging our greatest strengths - presence and community - to that end? The tendency to date is to work primarily in isolation or connected through security companies that may struggle to understand school life. Yet, there is so much we can learn from each other, ranging from best training practices to how to develop effective mediums to talk directly with students about safety and security. There are many wonderful experts and well-meaning folks out there who place entirely too much emphasis on armed response and not enough on the social and emotional health of our students and teachers. I recently attended a workshop where the facilitator counted how many people he could kill, by running through the auditorium, using his hand as a mock weapon. Aren’t we better served focusing on positive, pre-emptive training rather than advancing hysteria?
It’s time to connect and collaborate as educators. According to a joint report from the Department of Education and the Secret Service, almost 100 percent of active shooters experienced or perceived a major loss before their attack; 78 percent had a history of suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts and 71 percent felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others. The answer seems clear. We need more guidance counselors.