June 6, 2018

Incidents of School Violence: Lessons Learned and Discussion From Those Impacted
Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos held an informational meeting with survivors and family members impacted by the mass shootings at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Parkland as well as authors of official reports following incidents of school violence. The meeting consisted of two sets of discussions. The first highlighted lessons learned from previous school tragedies with presentations from:
  • Troy Eid, ex-officio member of the Columbine Review Commission (Statement)
  • Michael Mulhare, assistant vice president for Emergency Management at Virginia Tech University (Statement)
  • Dr. Marisa Reddy Randazzo, chief research psychologist of the U.S. Secret Service (Statement)
  • William Modzeleski, a senior consultant with several groups specializing in school safety, threat assessment, emergency management and homeland security (Statement
The second discussion consisted of participants directly impacted by school shootings. Presenters included:
  • Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, the first student killed at Columbine High School
  • Dr. Derek O'Dell, a survivor of the Virginia Tech University attack (Statement)
  • Scarlett and J.T. Lewis, who lost their son and brother, respectively, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (StatementStatement)
  • Ryan Petty, who lost his daughter Alaina in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL
In closing his statement, Michael Mulhare mentioned the collaboration and free sharing of ideas and practices that occurs within higher education. "I think higher education recognized very early that you could not individually accomplish all that is needed to be done. Within state and regional organizations, athletic conference relationships, federal partners and national forums ... platforms are provided to exchange ideas, challenges and successes." Michael listed the following examples:
In her statement, Marisa Randazzo said, "The Safe School Initiative is still considered to be the landmark federal study on school shootings in the United States." She shared what was learned from that study and the model that was created to prevent school shootings in the U.S., the federal school threat assessment, "which is what we know works to prevent school shootings." The findings Marisa discussed are detailed in The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States (PDF). The U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education also released a companion report, Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates (PDF), in 2002 that provides school personnel, law enforcement professionals, mental health professionals, and others a how-to guide to set up and operate school threat assessment teams and a step-by-step process for investigating and evaluating threats and prevent school violence.
To learn more about Handling Threats and Other Disturbing Behavior on Campus, join the National Center for Campus Public Safety on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 2:00PM ET for the first 2018 webinar in our free series, Campus Public Safety Online. We welcome back presenter Marisa Randazzo (PDF), an international expert on threat assessment, targeted violence, and violence prevention, to discuss the question facing campus public safety officers and campus administrators most often in the wake of high profile school, campus, and workplace shootings: what are we doing to keep campuses safe?

Countering False Info on Social Media
Download the white paper.
DHS Science and Technology Directorate Publishes Resource to Help Counter False Social Media Information
The Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate established the Virtual Social Media Working Group in 2010, which was renamed the Social Media Working Group for Emergency Services and Disaster Management (SMWGESDM) in 2015. SMWGESDM's mission is to provide recommendations to thea emergency preparedness and response community on the safe and sustainable use of social media technologies before, during, and after emergencies. SMWGESDM members are subject-matter experts from federal, tribal, territorial, state, and local responders from across the United States who establish and collect best practices and solutions that can be implemented by public safety officials and first responders. Their latest white paper, Countering False Information on Social Media in Disasters and Emergencies (PDF), was published in March 2018.
Countering False Information on Social Media in Disasters and Emergencies examines the motivations people have for sharing bad or false information, discusses underlying issues that cause false information, and looks at case studies that illustrate the problem. It builds on real-world case studies of several incidents to provide best practices for how agencies can counter misinformation, rumors, and false information.
The causes and spread of false social media content are most often caused by four issues, according to the research conducted by SMWGESDM:
  • Incorrect Information (intentional versus unintentional): Can be caused by situations where true or accurate information is difficult to confirm or by individuals that wish to cause confusion.
  • Insufficient Information: Can result from a lack of information in the wake of an incident. Rumors are more likely to occur in this situation.
  • Opportunistic Disinformation: Can occur when predatory individuals seek to capitalize on an event or incident for either financial or political reasons.
  • Outdated Information: Can begin circulating as people begin posting information without verifying the date or accuracy of the information they are sharing in an attempt to "be first" with the news. 
The white paper examines each of these issues in depth with examples. Further, key best practices are explored and categorized by people, processes, and technology. These include partnerships, software considerations, and preparing in advance for scenarios. Additional considerations and challenges that may be encountered are also included for reflection.
For more information on the SMWGESDM or other documents they have published, please visit their website.

Professional Development Opportunities

Title: Social Media for Natural Disaster Response and Recovery (PER-304)
Organization: National Disaster Preparedness Training Center
Dates and Locations:
  • June 26, 2018 in Grand Rapids, MI
  • August 1, 2018 in San Diego, CA
  • August 28, 2018 in West Columbia, SC
Fee: Free
Title: 2018 National Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition
Organization: National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security
Dates: July 9-12, 2018
Location: Louisville, KY
Fee: Registration fee
Title: Exterior Response to Active Shooter Events
Organization: Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training
Dates: Jul 18-20, 2018
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Fee: Free

For additional trainings and events, access our searchable online calendar

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This project was supported by Grant No. 2013-MU-BX-K011 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.
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