Digital Threat Assessment Toolkit
Digital Evidence

6.1 Rules of Engagement

Many of the search techniques and investigative tools of Digital Threat Assessment may seem to be invasive, as they involve searching for and viewing personal information and content; however, what you are searching for is publicly viewable data.

It is important to remember the purpose of threat assessment. Threat Assessment in general (and thus Digital Threat Assessment) involves collecting data from multiple sources to make the most well-informed, data-driven assessment of risk. This allows the multidisciplinary team to structure the most appropriate intervention strategy possible to provide an opportunity for corrective action to take place and redirect an at-risk person towards a positive, safe, and pro-social outcome.

Receiving a threat through a digital medium can be very unsettling. It can be a challenge to determine who the individual behind the threat is, their access to the means to carry out the threat, and whether other individuals are involved. Your response (what is done and how you ensure your response is not over or under-reactive) is most often closely related to the data you have available on which to base your decision. Being well-informed about what to look for, where to look for additional information, and how to take appropriate action is key information to have when determining what to do next.

Digital Threat Assessment tools should never be used in a vacuum or as a “fishing expedition” to locate information that could be used against a student, including suspension or expulsion. A poorly timed suspension or premature disciplinary action can be a risk-enhancer for a student who is at risk.

As an administrator, you decide to use social media to locate social media posts from a student who is causing a significant amount of mischief in your building so that you can have grounds to suspend or expel them.

As an administrator, you use social media to locate social media posts from a student who has made a threat to come to the school and cause harm. You are attempting to establish their digital baseline to make the most informed and data-driven decision regarding the level of risk and to plan the most effective student intervention supports.

Tip: A threat assessment MUST precede disciplinary action.