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Homeland Security Helps Schools Prevent Violence, Raise Awareness

Staff reports

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is drafting a guide to help schools and law enforcement create Targeted Violence Prevention Plans in the wake of last month’s Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead.

“These plans outline procedures for schools on how to create multidisciplinary threat assessment teams, establish central reporting mechanisms, identify student behaviors of concern, define the threshold for law enforcement intervention, and identify intervention and management strategies for decreasing the risk of a targeted attack,” a Homeland Security news release said.

The federal agency will also conduct training and other activities to increase school security across the country, Homeland Security announced Monday.

“No child should have to worry about their safety when in school,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement.

State and local officials have “primary responsibility” for the physical security at schools, but Homeland Security hopes to “improve awareness and foster a culture of preparedness.”

“We are working with partners around the country to harden these vulnerable targets,” Nielsen said, adding that “we can better educate the entire community on threats to school safety.”

The public often plays a key role in identifying suspicious behavior.

The plan includes engaging school officials, parents, students and first responders to communicate best practices and promote security measures. The federal Hometown Security Program helps local officials make schools safer, and grant funding is available to enhance security.

Homeland Security plans to update its K-12 School Security Practices Guide to include information learned from recent attacks.

Furthermore, Homeland Security works with school and law enforcement officials to identify and report suspicious activity. A nationwide public awareness campaign modeled on “See Something, Say Something” is being developed.

A school attack research study is being conducted to study motives, behaviors and other factors to improve prevention.

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