Page 163 - Security Today, July/August 2018
P. 163

Below is a list of signs for students, educators, and parents to be aware of. While one warning sign on its own may not mean a person is planning an act of violence, if multiple warning signs are witnessed, it should be taken seriously.
• A strong fascination or obsession with firearms and/or an excessive study of firearms and mass shootings.
• Exhibiting excessive over-reactions or aggressive behavior for a seemingly minor reasons can signal that someone cannot self-regulate their emotions or control their anger.
• Gestures of violence and low commitment or aspirations toward
school, or a sudden shift in academic performance.
• Perpetrators of self-harm or violence towards others may be
victims of long-term bullying and may have real or perceived feelings of being picked on or persecuted by others.
• Extreme feelings of isolation or social withdrawal due to real or per- ceived actions of others can lead to further withdrawal from society.
• Unsupervised, illegal and/or easy access to firearms, or bragging about access to firearms, can also be a warning sign.
• Making overt threats of violence (spoken, written, pictures, videos, gestures) are signs that should not be ignored.
space and a 24/7 multi-lingual crisis center. Each tip is vetted, assessed, prioritized by threat level, and forwarded to the appropriate school officials and law enforcement. This is an alternative that will allow stu- dents to speak up without fear and get help for at-risk individuals.
Through the Say Something program and SS-ARS platform, there have been numerous shooting plots, suicides, and other acts of vio- lence that have been averted thanks to countless brave students who stood up and said something.
We are in an age where youth are more desensitized to violence than ever and instilling empathy is imperative. Feelings of isolation are one of the first symptoms in the downward spiral towards acting out in violent or destructive ways. Our “Start with Hello” program teaches students that the simple act of saying hello to a peer whom they don’t know, or inviting them to sit with them at lunch or recess is critical to feelings of worth. This could help an individual to avoid feeling iso- lated and could change their lives for the better.
Schools that have implemented this program have reported a dra- matic decrease in bullying, creation of an overall inclusive community where no one eats alone, and feeling from students that they have much more in common with peers they used to avoid than differences.
Students aren’t the only ones prepping for back-to-school.
Following Parkland, there has been a great deal of conversation about arming teachers and school administrators throughout the country. However, there are better alternatives than placing a gun, or any weapon, in classrooms. Teachers are already juggling so much, including keeping students safe, and should not be tasked
with this burden.
That is why we have programming available, such our “Safety
Assessment & Intervention” program that trains teachers and school administrators on how to identify and treat an underlying issue in an at-risk student’s life that could lead to them acting out and/or poten- tially looking to hurt themselves or others.
Not all students who are struggling act out. There are many students who silently carry their woes and put on a façade that everything is okay, even though they might be committing self-harm, having sui- cidal thoughts, or planning acts of violence against others.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for American teenagers and the Center of Disease Control has seen a steady increase of suicide among teens, especially teenage girls. Our program “Signs of Suicide Prevention” trains teachers on how to spot warning signs of depression and youth suicide. Suicide is preventable, early detection can be a mat- ter of life or death, and we want to make sure that students who need help are able to access it in a timely manner.
Gun violence, as well as other acts of violence and self-harm, are preventable when one knows the signs. As students, teachers, and par- ents prepare for another school year, Sandy Hook Promise wants to ensure that students have a safe environment to grow, learn, and thrive in. Schools should be safe havens and this is the mission of Sandy Hook Promise.
All of the programs offered through Sandy Hook Promise are available at no-cost to schools. For this upcoming school year, let’s create a safe environment in our schools by taking proactive mea- sures and adding gun violence prevention to the top of our back-to- school checklist.
To learn more about Sandy Hook Promise its proven programs, please visit www.SandyHook-
Nicole Hockley is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise.

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