Insightful Book on Violent Warning Signs

Warning Signs by Brian D. Johnson, PhD and Laurie D. Berdahl, MD

Warning Signs by Brian D. Johnson, PhD and Laurie D. Berdahl, MD

Warning Signs and Destructive Youth Behavior

Earlier this summer, I was asked to review a copy of the book Warning Signs How to Protect Your Kids from Becoming Victims or Perpetrators of Violence and Aggression. Authored by Brian D. Johnson, PhD and Laurie D. Berdahl, MD, the book is geared to parents as well as to those who work with children and youth.  I found the book to be very informative with copious amounts of practical and helpful advice on this timely topic.  In fact, soon after reading the book, I began using data from the book in my keynote presentations.

Helpful Data on School Homicides

One example of information that I found to be helpful is data the authors provide from the Centers for Disease Control.  This data indicates that 45% of homicides on K12 campuses involves interpersonal disputes.  I have long seen a significant correlation between the number of fights in schools and the risk that a shooting or an edged weapons assault will occur.  Steve Satterly’s Relative Risk of Death demonstrates that roughly 8% of all murders committed are committed by active shooters (for more of our research visit our resources page).  The CDC data cited by the authors supports our concern that schools where active shooter efforts dominate the time, effort and funding for safety can be at greater risk for homicide.  With 62 victims murdered on K12 campuses from 1998 to 2013, schools must not forget to also address the risks for the 92% of murders on K12 campuses that were not the result of active shooter events.

Practical Advice for Parents to Recognize Youth Risk Factors

The authors do an excellent job of providing parents with practical advice on recognizing patterns of behavior in children in youth that can indicate higher risk for aggression, victimization and suicide.  They also follow through with realistic action steps that adults can take to reduce the risk of such negative outcomes.  In an age where parents and youth service professionals are deeply concerned about violence by and against school-aged youth, the book provides tangible, helpful and practical action steps that are within the reach of parents and those who serve children and youth.  I highly recommend Warning Signs: How to Protect Your Kids from Becoming Victims or Perpetrators of Violence and Aggression.

Free Audio Crisis Scenarios from Safe Havens

This still from the Safe Havens International Safe Topics The First 30 Seconds evaluation and staff development set depicts a woman with a knife in a school's front office.  School crisis scenario testing is one of the most powerful assessment tools for measuring how well prepared school personnel are to make effective and fast life-saving decisions.  Safe Havens has now released five free audio scenarios which can help organizations evaluate and improve emergency preparedness.

This still from the Safe Havens International Safe Topics The First 30 Seconds evaluation and staff development set depicts a woman with a knife in the front office of a school. School crisis scenario testing is one of the most powerful assessment tools for measuring how well prepared school personnel are to make effective and fast life-saving decisions. Safe Havens has now released five free audio scenarios which can help organizations evaluate and improve emergency preparedness.

Safe Havens International began using verbal scenarios in our school security assessment processes many years ago. About 12 years ago, we began creating video crisis scenarios for use in training for clients and for our conference keynote sessions. While trying to help a large urban school district figure out why an experienced administrator failed to take life-saving action which resulted in a student’s death, we found that it was quite revealing to have school administrators respond to our scenario videos in a real-time fashion. During this assessment, I ran scenarios with five very experienced building administrators. When presented with a scenario of an angry parent depicted as threatening front office staff with a large knife, three of the five administrators stated they would ask the woman to come into their office and that they would persuade her to surrender the weapon. None of the five administrators opted to request police assistance or to issue a lockdown for the school. As some of the administrators had armed and sworn police officers assigned to their buildings, this was quite a shock. As this assessment involved a large urban school district with more than 100 schools we were even more surprised.

School Crisis Scenarios Reveal Astounding Gaps

Since that time, our analysts have conducted more than 5,000 one-on-one crisis simulations where representative school employees were asked to respond to a variety of school crisis scenarios in a real-time fashion. Our award winning video team has now produced approximately 100 scripted, audio and video scenarios depicting a wide array of crisis situations. We have developed scoring tools and have embedded the scenarios and the scoring tools into our web-based school security assessment evaluation tool. The results of these simulations have been nothing short of amazing.

School Crisis Scenario Sets

Several years ago, Safe Havens invested more than $250,000 to produce two sets of crisis simulations which are available on our website. One set includes school-based scenarios and the other set is focused on school bus scenarios. These evaluation and staff development sets have been very popular. Last week, our video unit completed five new audio scenarios that have been designed as a free resource. While this resource does not include the companion training videos, video scenarios, scoring tools, and other resources included in the sets in our web store, they are valuable free tools. The scenarios are available as a free MP3 download so they can be played on smart phones, tablets and laptops to initiate drills, conduct limited evaluations and for use in staff development sessions.

Free Audio Crisis Scenarios for any setting

These free crisis scenarios are intentionally recorded to be used in any setting. Developed in cooperation for Campus Safety Magazine as a free resource for attendees at the 2015 Campus Safety Conference in Chicago, they have already generated considerable interest. Be sure to check out these scenarios at: http://safehavensinternational.org/staying-alive/

Evidence-based Procedures Increase Survival Odds

 

Evidence-based Procedures

SafeSchools Training announced a a new Active Shooter for Administrators course, written by Michael and Chris Dorn.  The course outlines methods to improve the odds of survival during an active shooter event, using evidence-based procedures.

From the article, “Developed in conjunction with Michael and Chris Dorn of Safe Havens International, the new SafeSchools Training Active Shooter for Administrators online course provides an overview for administrators that focuses on techniques that are proven to reduce the likelihood of violence on campus or, in the event of a violent incident, increases the likelihood of safety for students and staff. For instance, the course covers research-based strategies – such as Enhanced School Lockdown – that can be used in response to an active shooter on campus. This course is intended to be used along with a district’s Emergency Operations Plan or Crisis Response Plan.”

Analysis

There are numerous training programs that schools are using to prepare themselves for an Active Shooter Incident (ASI). Very few of them use evidence-based procedures.  It seems that they are either grasping at proverbial straws to show that they are doing something, or are accepting what law enforcement officers are offering without using a critical eye on the programs they are implementing in schools. It is not an either/or proposition.

Schools need to critically analyze any program they implement for children, especially when it involves a child’s safety.  In schools, data and research drive their educational decisions, so why not safety decisions?

After Sandy Hook, it is natural that schools and parents take a critical look at how schools prepare for ASI’s.  A critical evaluation should include a look at any research and data that helps identify the true scope of the problem, as well as the nature of any response that might be developed.  The lives of our children demand this, and are too important to entrust to unproven procedures.