About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.

School Safety Support

School Safety Support

Most school security directors, police chiefs, risk managers, and other professionals tasked with creating and maintaining school safety will tell you that one of the biggest challenges they face is obtaining buy-in for school safety measures. This is one reason many school safety leaders push to get their organizations to incorporate passive design features like crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) while also attempting to get security cameras and other technology solutions. With the many success stories of CPTED in the school setting and the truly amazing improvements in school security technology, these can be wise investments. Smart camera technologies with remarkable video and audio analytical capabilities and proven design features can go a long way to create safer schools. However, these assets are much more reliable when they are combined with a well-informed and highly motivated team of administrators, teachers and support staff.

Obtaining School Safety buy-in

Safe Havens has been working closely with the South Carolina Department of Education on a series of five school safety train the trainer programs with a focus on providing tools for South Carolina school districts designed to help address the critical human aspect of school safety. Using a system of more than 50 carefully scripted video and audio school crisis scenarios; this project has been extremely well-received thus far. The training series provides staff with a variety of options for interactive staff development activities combined with a modern approach to school drills and district-level implementation of a comprehensive drill program. The result is that South Carolina school officials can now more easily build interest and support for their written policies, plans, and procedures by providing staff with scenario-based activities that provide a strong impact on trainees. Our experience has always been that a few minutes of scenario-based training can accomplish more than a year of staff development sessions that fail to grab your attention and result in no buy-in from staff. As the cost of the entire statewide program is less than a school security camera system for a single elementary school, the return on the time, energy, and effort will be significant. As schools can, and when possible, they should continue to implement these highly robust school security technology and building design concepts. They should also be sure to keep up efforts to develop school employees that are just as high-tech – using human factors.

The winning combination for supporting School Safety

The combination of great physical safety and security measures and an increasingly competent workforce can improve on the impressive advancements in school safety we have witnessed over the past three decades. While there are significant on continually evolving school safety challenges, we have never before had the quality of human skill sets and physical safety options to get the job done. To me, the progress is remarkable, meaningful and timely.

School Safety Strategies: Strategy 19: Share Success Stories

One great resource for building school safety support internally is Safe Havens’ report “20 Simple Strategies for Safer Schools” produced for the Maine Department of Education.

Violence, Literacy and Hope in Trinidad – Tobago

Violence, Literacy and Hope in Trinidad – Tobago

I was blessed to be able keynote again in Trinidad – Tobago (affectionately called TT by people who live in or are from Trinidad). I have developed a great admiration for the people of this small Caribbean nation. Before my keynote for the first national school violence conference in TT last year, I had the opportunity to conduct informal school security assessments in the Port of Spain and to meet with officials from the Ministry of Education. These visits gave me a much better idea of the way schools in the small Caribbean nation operate, how the schools achieve one of the world’s highest literacy rates, and the challenges the schools in this nation of 1.3 million people face. That night, I stayed up very late and dramatically changed the presentation I had planned to deliver. The site visits made me realize much of the information I had planned to present would be of little use to school and public safety officials. The CORE Foundation sponsored the conference and received excellent reviews on conference presentations and panel discussions. Before he conference was over, I was asked if I could return to keynote another conference. After the conference, I spent several days watching leatherback sea turtles nest in the Grande Riviere with my family and we had a wonderful experience. My family and I began to fall in love with the people and culture of Trinidad. Like many developing countries, TT has many opportunities to be a better place. However, I experienced a level of kindness, humble pride, and many people with a deep passion to affect positive change in their country’s schools.

The week before last, I received a short notice request to keynote a violence prevention conference that had been planned in response to a series of particularly brutal homicides. I had blocked the week off to work on our new textbook so my calendar was open. The CORE Foundation confirmed the booking that Friday for me to present the following Monday and Tuesday. This conference was not focused on school safety but on violence prevention in any setting. I decided to develop two brand new presentations on Saturday and fly to TT on Sunday. Fortunately, things worked out well and the conference was a success. The CORE Foundation has already asked me to do a live distance learning session to make it easier for people from both Trinidad and the separate island of Tobago to participate.

I not only had the chance to meet many caring and passionate people on this trip, but also had the good fortune to hear some excellent presenters from TT. I had my second chance to hear Dr. Anthony Watkins, a master storyteller and caring advocate for children and youth. I really enjoyed the privilege of listening to a dynamic and potent presentation by Gillian Wall from an organization called the Powerful Ladies of Trinidad – Tobago. Jillian made a passionate appeal to the audience – “Help us Rebuild the Village that used to Raise our Children.” I had the opportunity to spend time with some impressive police and security officers and learned fascinating background which helped me understand why some of the unique law enforcement tactical techniques have been developed. My fondness for TT has grown with each visit. My heart has been touched by so many wonderful people who have pride in the great goodness that exists in a country with some daunting challenges. Most importantly, I was blessed to have the chance to see the burning passion in the eyes of a diverse group of professionals who came from across the islands of Trinidad and Tobago to make their country an even better place.

Safe Havens Team Chosen to Author University Textbook on Extreme Violence

A team of three Safe Havens Analysts and more than a dozen of their colleagues has been selected to author a 600-page textbook for undergraduate students, graduate students, and practitioners who desire advanced information regarding the prevention of active shooter incidents, active killer attacks, acts of terrorism, and violent hate crimes. The working title for the book is Extreme Violence – How to Prevent, Prepare for and Recover from Active Shooter, Active Killer, Hate Violence and Acts of Terrorism. Extreme Violence will focus on what to do about the threat of extreme violence rather than focusing on the history or driving forces behind them. Rather than focusing on geopolitical solutions, the intensively researched book will be focused on how to address these extreme and highly lethal acts of violence at the local and state organizational level.

Safe Havens signed a contract with Cognella, a major publisher of more than 2,000 different textbooks, in November. Les Nichols, Phuong Nguyen and I will serve as co-authors and a distinguished team of subject matter experts have agreed to serve as contributing authors for the most comprehensive textbook on the subject in print. After a careful review of more than 100 books on related topics, we have identified a significant gap in textbooks that provide a comprehensive treatment of the prevention
of, preparedness for and recovery from these devastating types of extreme violence. The talented Safe Havens audio-visual, team will also be developing an array of support web tools to give the learner perspectives that are new to the field of textbook publication. The book will include more than 30 chapters on a wide array of related topics and will be heavily illustrated. The research and writing team has been hard at work and we are proud of the work they have done so far. We feel honored to have been selected by one of the nation’s most respected textbook publishers and to have the chance to work with such a diverse team of amazing subject matter experts to produce this much needed work.