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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

There is no profile of a school shooter

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Don’t try to profile potential school shooters warns a new Secret Service report on school safety. It doesn’t work. “These acts of violence were committed by students who were loners and socially isolated and those who were well-liked and popular,” said Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles. Some were good students. Others were not.

The report urges schools to focus on students’ behavior rather than their personality traits, forming “threat assessment teams” made up of teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, mental health authorities and law enforcement, reports USA Today.

“The threshold for intervention should be relatively low so that teams can identify students in distress before their behavior escalates to the point that classmates, teachers, or parents are concerned about their safety or the safety of others,” the report concludes.

The guide encourages schools to create “reporting mechanisms like an online tip form, a dedicated hotline or even a smartphone app,” reports the New York Times.

If it is a transient threat, something said out of anger without the weapons to act on it, it can be handled with informal counseling or light disciplinary action, such as a notice to parents, said Amanda Nickerson, the director of the Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at the University at Buffalo. For more serious cases, the report said, students can be directed to therapy, academic tutoring or life-skills classes. In instances where the threat assessment team deems a threat credible or imminent, law enforcement personnel can step in.

Of suspects linked to violence in schools and other public places, “64 percent of attackers showed symptoms of mental illness,” according to the report.

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