Education Matters: seeing the warning signs to prevent school shootings

Education

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – A new study by the Secret Service has determined that school shootings are preventable – and the attackers show similar warning signs.

The Office of Fresno County Superintendent of Schools is working on a prevention plan. Authorities say the key to preventing school violence is not only knowing the early warning signs but reacting to them.

The latest school shooting was at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita: the gunman was a 16-year-old student. Weeks after the incident, authorities still don’t have a clear reason why.

People who knew the shooter were stunned, calling the teenager a smart kid who showed no signs of aggressive behavior. Digging deeper, authorities say he had a troubled home life and was having relationship problems.

“The importance of understanding the risk factors that might be indicating if a student might be thinking of hurting themselves or others or both or is going to drop-out or drugs and alcohol those risk factors are out there,” said Threat Assessment Consultant John Van Dreal.

“They’re not always loud but they are noticeable if you know what to look for.”

The office of Fresno County Superintendent of Schools put on a workshop and 22 of the county’s school districts sent representatives to participate.

“This training definitely entails a pro-active approach,” said Fresno County Superintendent of Schools’ Hank Gutierrez.

“We are trying to head off a threat before it becomes actual school violence and we are learning many tools.”

The school staff will make up each district’s behavioral threat assessment team. Among them are superintendents, school psychologists, resource officers, teachers, and bus drivers.

“That’s the beauty of making up that multi-disciplinary team where we can all take a different lens at that threat and we can treat that student equitably.”

Officials say not all school threats are the same, and the goal is to help staff identify the seriousness of the threat and get to students before there is a crisis.

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