Local officials, law enforcement, and EMS are digesting information after the U.S. Secret Service presented a report on school violence late last week.
State Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) hosted the presentation at Council Rock South High School. She stated her role was to bring together school officials, police, and first responders into the same room so they could all hear the same information.
“This education was about making schools aware and making sure we act on any concerns to prevent something from happening,” said Thomas. “It’s important to look at the student and make sure that the student is being supported in a way that could be a tragedy.”
The report, available here, studied 41 cases of school violence. Analysts looked at motives, evidence of developmental or emotional issues, and many other factors.
As the presentation focused on preventative measures, Thomas found one particular piece of information stood out; in each instance, the student had voiced their intent to someone else.
On February 13, Thomas will host a hearing to find out the best way to support students who may be considering an act of violence.
“We’ve all seen an uptick in mental health issues in our schools,” said Thomas.
Thomas is also looking to introduce legislation. It will, in part, initiate a study to figure out what type of support students may need and how can schools provide it.
The Secret Service report also found a conclusion which challenges stereotypes; there is no profile of a student attacker.
Males and females, loners or popular, and performance in school were not good indicators. Instead, the report concluded the best way to determine a student’s risk for violence was to analyze their individual behavior and communications.
While officials look for ways to change procedures in schools, there are steps teachers can take to foster “safe school climates.” Making students more comfortable to come forward with any concerns and encouraging students to join extracurriculars are just two ways to foster a safer environment.