Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management for Educators and Administrators

8.0 Building a Threat Assessment Program

There are several considerations for establishing and operating a threat assessment team or program. This section includes general information that can be used to build a Threat Assessment team or program in a school. This section provides guidance specific to Threat Assessment teams in PreK-12 schools.

The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States gathered and analyzed information about those who commit targeted acts of violence in schools. The accompanying guide, Threat Assessment in Schools: A Guide to Managing Threatening Situations and to Creating Safe School Climates, was the impetus for establishing comprehensive threat assessment programs in schools.

Components of a Threat Assessment Program:

The following basic components are recommended for threat assessment programs in schools. While the primary component of any threat assessment program is a threat assessment team, other program components that can help a threat assessment team operate efficiently and effectively are listed below:

  • Policies that define threats and other potentially dangerous behavior as well as how such behavior may be handled within the school. Policies and related conduct handbooks should address employee behavior as well as student behavior. Note that zero-tolerance policies and other policies that trigger automatic, severe disciplinary consequences are not recommended. Such policies can have an inadvertently chilling effect on the willingness of students, employees, and others to report threats and other behavioral concerns.
  • Multi-disciplinary threat assessment team or program structure (See section 9.0 for options on threat assessment team and program structure).
  • Authority for the threat assessment team to engage in the threat assessment process on behalf of the school.
  • Training for the threat assessment team and key gatekeepers on threat assessment procedures.
  • Multiple reporting channels or mechanisms (including anonymous reporting mechanisms) that can allow students, employees, and others to report threatening and troubling behavior to the threat assessment team.
  • Guidance to the school on what types of behaviors and situations should be reported to the threat assessment team, and how reports can be made (including any mechanisms for anonymous reporting, if available).
  • Access to guidance from legal counsel about issues that may impact the work of the threat assessment team, including:

    • Relevant laws and regulations.
    • New developments from case law.
    • Changes in regulations.
    • Proposed legislation.
    • Questions about FERPA and other information-sharing concerns.
    • Case documentation.
  • Searchable database, spreadsheet, or a list to allow the threat assessment team to identify persons and/or situations that had been reported to the threat assessment team previously.

For more information on school threat assessment program components, please see: