This is a book about behavioral threat assessment that focuses on prevention and early intervention. It’s about thoughtful connection, inclusion, prosocial relationship building, and the restoration of meaningful and positive experiences for young people within the school environment. It’s about the importance of staying objective, avoiding assumptions, and eliminating prejudgment. Finally, it’s about redirecting that person to constructive, nonviolent solutions and avoiding arrest, institutionalization, or worse.
John Van Dreal is a school psychologist and the retired director of Safety and Risk Management Services for the Salem-Keizer School District.
Courtenay McCarthy is the lead school psychologist in student preventive behavioral threat assessment and management for Salem-Keizer Public Schools, is chair of the Mid-Valley Student Threat Assessment Team and is a member of the Marion County Threat Advisory Team.
Coleen Van Dreal is a school counselor at Roberts High School @ Chemeketa, Salem-Keizer Public School’s alternative high school.
How This Book is Organized, How This Book Can Help
Section One: Getting Started
Chapter 1: How to Build a Successful Threat Assessment Program
Chapter 2: Equity, Bias, and Restorative Practice—Avoiding the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Chapter 3: Special Education and Preventive Behavioral Threat Assessment
Section Two: Meet the Students: Seven Potentially Violent Situations
Chapter 4: Daniel and Will
Chapter 5: Alison
Chapter 6: Sam
Chapter 7: Eric and Maya
Chapter 8: Alan
Section Three: Begin the Level 1 Process
Chapter 9: School Site, Level 1 Preventive Assessment and Intervention: Questions 1-11 as They Apply to the Seven Student Case Studies
Chapter 10: Question 12 as It Applies to the Seven Case Studies
Chapter 11: Questions 13-20 as They Apply to Four of the Case Studies
Section Four: Complete the Process
Chapter 12: Collaborative Decision Making
Chapter 13: Managing Cases with Prevention, Inclusion, and Connection
Conclusion: Daniel, Will, Al, Sam, Eric, Maya, Alan—Did It Work?
Appendix: Level 1 Team Assessment Protocols and Forms
References and Resources
About the Authors
I highly recommend this book to anyone attempting to maintain a preventive behavioral threat assessment system, as well as anyone interested in implementing a threat assessment system for a school or community. The template offered provides an excellent navigation chart for starting or refining a system, and the examples cover a broad stroke of threats and behavior types, making for excellent tabletop discussions and practice. The authors remind us that we can identify youths who are on the pathway to violence, and we can use the principles of behavioral threat assessment and the creative responses of professionals to find the pathway back to a constructive, connected life.
John Van Dreal, Courtenay McCarthy, and Coleen Van Dreal are professionals who have actually done the prevention work and developed successful intervention plans for students in crisis. Using inclusion, connection, and the addition of protective factors, they have been instrumental in redirecting troubled youths away from pathways that are destructive and back to prosocial, positive, and successful experiences in education. If your goal is to create safe school environments that graduate learners who will move forward in their lives as educated, happy, responsible citizens, then this book will help you through its example.
While many schools and Institutions have embraced the benefits of having active threat assessment teams, many of those teams have not kept pace with research-based training and proven prevention methods that include a pro-student approach, social and emotional connections, and strategies that lead away from expulsion, arrest, and detention. Threat assessment programs cannot thrive and accomplish their mission to identify youths on the pathway to potential violence and prevent that violence without linking their system development with well-rounded, research-based sources. This book not only acknowledges the need to evolve threat management to interventions with a large scope of prevention efforts but clearly demonstrates the “how to” through an examination of seven engaging and intriguing case studies that transformed lives.
A great resource and guide for school and district leaders based on actual, practical, and relevant scenarios and events. A must-read for educators and those who work on ensuring and maintaining student safety in a school setting. The authors are actual practitioners with decades of firsthand knowledge and experience in how to manage, facilitate, and resolve such critical and complex situations and incidents.
This book illuminates both the logistical and programmatical steps in assuring a successful assessment program through a lens of equity, which often goes overlooked in the analysis of behavioral threats on our school campuses. Through student voice, schools can capitalize on what matters most, balancing inclusion and restorative practices in a manner that is fair for all.
The Salem-Keizer Cascade Model provides our six-county region in Western Colorado with a preventative, proactive system grounded in collaboration to keep children safe. Its power is showcased in these case studies. While there is no simple solution to assessing threats, the model embraces the “grey” of these situations while empowering threat assessment teams with interventions for the student exhibiting threatening behavior that are not necessarily reliant on the courts or the mental health system. This system reminds communities that they can effect change through relationships, and it helps remove emotion and fear from a community response. It has made our region safer.