Averted School Violence “Near Miss” Initiative Featured in Congressional Briefing

From left to right: Dr. Dusty Blakey, Ed.D., Superintendent, Colonial School District, New Castle, DE Jim Accomando, President, National PTA Board of Directors, Fairfield, CT Kristina Alzugaray, Student and SAVE Promise Club National Youth Advisory Board Member, Cutler Bay High School, Cutler Bay, FL Moderator: Mark Barden, Parent and Managing Director, Sandy Hook Promise, Newtown, CT Mark O’Neill: Center Roads Solutions Frank Straub, Ph.D., Director, Center for Mass Violence Response Studies, The Police Foundation, Battle Creek, MI

March 8, 2019 — Dr. Frank Straub, Director of Strategic Studies and the Center for Mass Violence Response Studies at the National Police Foundation, participated in the Sandy Hook Promise and AASA (The School Superintendents Association) Congressional Briefing today on “Keeping Students Safe: Proven Programs to Prevent School Violence.”

Dr. Straub, who oversees the National Police Foundation’s Averted School Violence Database, joined four other panelists (Mark Barden, Parent and Managing Director, Sandy Hook Promise; Jim Accomando, President, National PTA; Dr. Dusty Blakey, Superintendent, Colonial School District, New Castle, Delaware; Kristina Alguzaray, Student, Cutler Bay High School, Cutler Bay, FL) to speak to a room full of Congressional Staffers, advocacy organizations in the education, mental health and law enforcement field, and the press in order to educate senior-level Congressional staff on violence prevention programming, examples from education and law enforcement officials on school violence prevention, and perspectives from students and administrators on proven methods for student safety.

Dr. Frank Straub was asked several key questions relating to school safety based on data collected through the National Police Foundation’s Averted School Violence Database.

From your research on averted school violence, what is the most surprising thing you have learned as it relates to school shootings?

“I think there is a very important theme that emerged from our research – we have to spend more time on the prevention piece of the discussion. By that I mean we have to focus on developing supportive and resilient cultures in school environments that set- up all students for success. Within that context we have to put in place thoughtful policies and strategies to identify students who are becoming disenfranchised and/or isolated from their peers and adult role models – either because of bullying and other behaviors that adversely effect students who are ‘different’ or because of personal, family or other challenges that are causing them to withdraw.

We need to increase funding for mental health practitioners in school environments; school resource officer mental health/crisis intervention training that is specific to the social/emotional/intellectual developmental stages of the student populations they serve; greater emphasis on adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and trauma-informed approaches; encouraging supportive social-emotional and normative learning environments.

Sometimes our work needs to be about returning to the basics of education – ensuring that allstudents have the opportunities they need for success and engaging those students who are becoming isolated and disconnected.”

Based on your research, what policy recommendations would you make to Congress in this area?

“I think it is important for Congress to support holistic approaches to prevention, response and recovery. Local and state-level anonymous reporting systems are invaluable to protecting our children and should be linked to the Averted School Violence Database to create a national ‘public health’ surveillance system to provide solid data to policy makers, educators, law enforcement, mental health providers and the public on what works to protect our children.”

For more information on the the Averted School Violence initiative, please visit the ASV website.

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