Washington’s students face countless challenges and pressures every day — at school, home, work, and play.
Most are able to cope with the stress. But others turn to self-destructive behavior, like social isolation, cutting, substance use, and suicide. Some focus their frustration on external targets, hurting people and property. On rare occasions, they become violent at school.
A threat assessment system uses early interventions to keep students safe and engaged. Using an evidence-based, multidisciplinary approach, it identifies, evaluates, and supports students who present a significant concern or threat to themselves and others.
At each level, teams work directly with students, families, and the community to provide wraparound supports designed to break negative patterns and steer youth in a positive direction.
- More than 16% of 8th graders, 10% of 10th graders, and nearly 12% of 12th graders report not attending school at least once in the previous 30 days because they did not feel safe, either on their way to school or at school, itself.
- In the previous 30 days, 3% of 6th graders, 4% of 8th graders, 6% of 10th graders, and 8% of 12th graders reported bringing to school a weapon, such as a gun, knife, or club.
- Active shooting incidents are increasing. Between 2000 and 2017, an average of 13.8 incidents occurred each year. Between 2013 and 2017, an average of 21.4 incidents occurred each year.
- Research has found nearly all mass shooting attacks and many other shootings were carried out by individuals who made threats or engaged in threatening behavior that friends or family members observed.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24 in Washington.
- Suicide has been increasing among Washington youths ages 5 to 19.
- Threat assessment training (using the Salem-Keizer model)
- Brief consultation
2–Fee for Service
- Policy review
- Twelve free or reduced-cost trainings
- On-call crisis response
- Quarterly network meetings
4–Threat Assessment Cooperative
- School team training
- Threat assessment facilitation
- Community team convening
- Protocol and resource repository
- Monthly PLCs
Threat assessment is a structured multidisciplinary group process used to evaluate the risk posed by a student or another person, typically as a response to an actual or perceived threat or concerning behavior. The primary purpose of threat assessment is to prevent targeted violence. The threat assessment process is centered upon an analysis of the facts and evidence of behavior in each situation. Protocols are designed with recommendations of experts and focus on situation variables (not demographic characteristics).
- Identify and asses threats of potentially harmful or lethal behavior and determine the level of concern and action required.
- Organize resources and strategies to manage situations involving students that pose threats to other students and/or staff.
- Maintain a sense of psychological safety among our students, staff, and families.
The state of Washington has adopted the Salem-Keizer Threat Assessment System.
When a student or students are identified as a potential risk to others, they are assessed using a two-level approach:
A trained school-based team, including a school administrator, school counselor and law enforcement or SRO officer. This team works to understand the threat, the risk and resources the school has to address it.
If the school team determines the situation is high risk, in need of more help with the investigation, or it lacks necessary resources, the Level 2 community-based multi- disciplinary team is called. This team is comprised of Educational Service District and education district leaders, local mental health and law enforcement professionals. In addition, Juvenile Justice, Child Protective Services and other agencies may be called in as needed.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Association of Educational Service Districts are working together to support a common, standardized approach across the state to train and assist local school districts in the implementation of the Salem-Keizer Threat Assessment System.
The School Safety Advisory Committee and the Preventing Mass Shootings Workgroup support establishing a statewide threat assessment system that offers trained, dedicated student supports to protect and provide wraparound services to our state’s most vulnerable population: our children.
"My agency will continue our efforts to increase mental health supports for students. We are seeking additional resources for school counselors, threat assessments for students believed to be at risk of suicide or other violence, and professional development for educators to better recognize students who are in need mental health support." — Chris Reykdal, State Superintendent. Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction