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What Schools Need to Know About Threat Assessment Techniques

September 3, 2019

By: Stephen Sawchuk
Source: Education Week

Armed teachers and bulletproof backpacks may have captured the headlines, but quietly, another school safety strategy has been rapidly expanding: behavioral threat assessment.

In the 2019-20 school year, schools in Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, and Texas must begin using threat assessment in their schools. Washington state schools will join them in 2020-21. In both media narratives and in political debates, school safety has tended to cleave into two contrasting camps, one supporting the “hardening” of schools, which can include installing security defenses and hiring more school resource officers or police, and the other seeking to improve school climate.

Threat assessment falls between those two poles. It’s a prevention-based strategy that, in theory, means serious threats are stopped, while less serious ones trigger a review of a student’s mental-health, behavioral, or academic supports. Read on to learn about threat assessment’s origins, how it’s practiced, and why some privacy experts still have questions.

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