The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 25, 2008

News

Carlisle School works to assure a safe school environment

Carlisle Police Chief John Sullivan, DARE Police Officer Ron Holsinger and Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle attended a seminar on school safety hosted by the Boston field office of the U.S. Secret Service, and Doyle shared what they learned with the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) on April 16. The free seminar, held April 10 at Babson College, had about 300 participants and was targeted for K-12 educators and administrators, school counselors, school resource officers, mental health professionals as well as law enforcement professionals.

“The point of the meeting was to look at school violence and school shooters,” explained Doyle to the School Committee. While no single profile exists to identify students who may commit violence, she said, there are some similarities shared by the group. The study showed that a majority of students who commit violence were bullied, perceived themselves as outsiders, lacked a significant relationship with any adult, recently experienced a major loss or failure, and felt hopeless, helpless or targeted by others.

Doyle praised the school’s anti-bullying program and said the work by the Carlisle School is in line with the recommendations made by the Secret Service.

Doyle later told the Mosquito that there are several preventative measures schools can take to reduce the likelihood of violence, including anti-bullying programs, connecting students with school staff, encouraging student by-standers to tell adults if a student is speaking about violence, identifying at-risk students and promoting “zero tolerance for bullying.”

Identifying at-risk students has been an on-going process involving the school nurse, administrators and guidance department (NAG). “In the past, I met with NAG and asked them to go back to team teachers, identify students who they felt were at risk, and have a specific adult mentor that child. The teachers were great about identifying and “adopting” students to mentor. We also reminded teachers to report anything concerning in student writing. The Secret Service also mentioned that the shooters wrote about violence in their school work.”

One exercise suggested in the Safe School document is to have the school staff list all students with whom they are “connected” in some way. Students not on the list are assigned a staff member.

Safe school initiative

According to the National Threat Assessment Center a 2002 study by the U.S. Secret Service detailed 37 school shootings from 1974 to 2000. The study’s goal was to identify traits or conditions that were similar in school violence situations which could be used to prevent school-based attacks.

The study found that very few attackers had previously threatened their targets. In most cases, school shootings were premeditated, and often other students were aware of the attacker’s plan but did not alert adults. There was no single profile of a school shooter, the report concluded, but the students did display some sort of behavior before the incident that was a concern to at least one adult. Two reports were generated by the study. The first detailed the research (www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_final_report.pdf) and the second is a guide to prevention and identification methods (www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_guide.pdf). ∆

Carlisle Police Chief John Sullivan, DARE Police Officer Ron Holsinger and Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle attended a seminar on school safety hosted by the Boston field office of the U.S. Secret Service, and Doyle shared what they learned with the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) on April 16. The free seminar, held April 10 at Babson College, had about 300 participants and was targeted for K-12 educators and administrators, school counselors, school resource officers, mental health professionals as well as law enforcement professionals.

“The point of the meeting was to look at school violence and school shooters,” explained Doyle to the School Committee. While no single profile exists to identify students who may commit violence, she said, there are some similarities shared by the group. The study showed that a majority of students who commit violence were bullied, perceived themselves as outsiders, lacked a significant relationship with any adult, recently experienced a major loss or failure, and felt hopeless, helpless or targeted by others.

Doyle praised the school’s anti-bullying program and said the work by the Carlisle School is in line with the recommendations made by the Secret Service.

Doyle later told the Mosquito that there are several preventative measures schools can take to reduce the likelihood of violence, including anti-bullying programs, connecting students with school staff, encouraging student by-standers to tell adults if a student is speaking about violence, identifying at-risk students and promoting “zero tolerance for bullying.”

Identifying at-risk students has been an on-going process involving the school nurse, administrators and guidance department (NAG). “In the past, I met with NAG and asked them to go back to team teachers, identify students who they felt were at risk, and have a specific adult mentor that child. The teachers were great about identifying and “adopting” students to mentor. We also reminded teachers to report anything concerning in student writing. The Secret Service also mentioned that the shooters wrote about violence in their school work.”

One exercise suggested in the Safe School document is to have the school staff list all students with whom they are “connected” in some way. Students not on the list are assigned a staff member.

Safe school initiative

According to the National Threat Assessment Center a 2002 study by the U.S. Secret Service detailed 37 school shootings from 1974 to 2000. The study’s goal was to identify traits or conditions that were similar in school violence situations which could be used to prevent school-based attacks.

The study found that very few attackers had previously threatened their targets. In most cases, school shootings were premeditated, and often other students were aware of the attacker’s plan but did not alert adults. There was no single profile of a school shooter, the report concluded, but the students did display some sort of behavior before the incident that was a concern to at least one adult. Two reports were generated by the study. The first detailed the research (www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_final_report.pdf) and the second is a guide to prevention and identification methods (www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_guide.pdf). ∆

 


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