Many studies have noted how, in the past few decades, violent school threats have escalated rapidly. As more violence is being brought to schools, there is a new wave of security tools and strategies being applied to mitigate the risks and monitor these threats. Common threats to schools vary in type, detail, and intensity.
From widespread bomb threats to more targeted attacks, while not every threat will result in action, security personnel must treat every threat as if it will. Know where to look and what to look for.
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Bullying & Victimization
Bullying creates perpetrators and victims. If a student is being bullied and finds no intervention or bullying is encouraged, they may threaten the school. They may also find a way to retaliate against it.
Any sort of bullying or conflict, physical or otherwise that is left to progress without intervention has the potential to escalate to violence. Identifying early warning signs and resolving conflict between students and teachers is crucial.
Trauma Among Students
Students with trauma in their backgrounds rarely receive the support they need in school to thrive. Losing a parent. Imprisonment. Deportation. Crime. Abuse. Trauma can cause unpredictable emotional reactions, negatively impact student learning, and is linked to more anxiety and aggression.
Racial minority and low-income students are at particular risk as they experience significantly more trauma than other students. The solution to trauma is mental health resources that schools so very rarely have at their disposal.
If a student or person can successfully conceal a weapon and carry it onto school grounds, it dramatically increases the damage they can do. Fortunately, through AI and weapon threat detection systems, security personnel do not need to search to find concealed weapons physically.
Weapon threat detection is a non-invasive check of individuals entering school property. This school security solution can tag individuals carrying a weapon and notify the relevant authorities in real time of what’s going on.
Burnout In Teachers & Students
Burnout threatens teachers and students by leaving people shut down, hopeless, sad, exhausted, and negative. This can be caused by a variety of factors. However, it is often tied to too much work for teachers and students.
Burnout can degrade mental health and leave people more prone to anxiety or aggression. At times, a person affected by burnout may turn anxiety or aggression against themselves and harm themselves or others.
Poor School Security Planning
In response to common threats to schools, some institutions respond with strategies and security initiatives that are not effective. Metal detectors do not work and create unsafe feelings among students.
Security personnel do not work and routinely target and profile racialized, low-income communities. Even active shooter drills have a negative mental health impact and are debated whether they have merit.
Social Media Threats
Social media was not as active two decades ago as it is today. Students use social media for self-expression and connection. Some who are more prone to violent tendencies may use social media to threaten institutions or individuals, either publicly or privately, in messages with friends.
Social media threats are easy to track. The person who commented can often be identified, and consequences can follow from there.
School threats do not involve physically entering the school and creating disruptions in this way. Cyberattacks can take down the school’s servers or try to collect private information on teachers and actors.
Phishing, malware, ransomware, weak credentials, and distributed denial-of-service attacks are common school threats. Security to fight against such threats is always evolving, with many school systems attacked over the past decade.
Death Threats To Specific Individuals
Death threats can be made through various means, sometimes through social media, but they are often anonymous in nature. They can be sent through an email, scribbled on a note, or even put on a bathroom wall.
A death threat is a severe threat to a school. It requires police and other authorities. This ensures that not only is the person being threatened protected but that the person who produced the death threat is found.
Students With A Violence Propensity
Many active shooter incidents in schools are preventable and had red flags days, months, and sometimes years prior. A person with a violent past or a tendency to resort to aggressive behaviour in their present should receive the mental health support they need to overcome what they are suffering through.
Persons with violent tendencies who are isolated and left untreated could see violence grow into actions and be a threat to those around them.