ALERT
La Loche, Saskatchewan Shootings

Traumatic Aftermath
and
Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA)

“The fields of Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Crisis/Trauma Response are inseparably connected.” J. Kevin Cameron

In the aftermath of the shootings in La Loche, Saskatchewan, we now have a national critical period for both increased threats to duplicate the crime, as well as a critical period for an increase in trauma symptoms.  This threat is not just at ground zero (where the traumatic event occurred) but in many schools and communities across the Country (impact zone). Although high profile shootings have spiked dramatically in the United States, the tragedy in La Loche is the highest profile incident in a Canadian High School since the 1999 school shooting in Taber, Alberta.  A tragedy of this magnitude on our soil means we are in the most significant school-based critical period we have experienced as a country, in almost 17 years. As such, this ALERT will remain in effect longer than usual to include as much condensed information as possible.

Whether the case is VTRA, Crisis/Trauma Response or both, remember that high-profile violence does not cause people to go from zero (no risk) to sixty (extreme risk) – instead it simply “intensifies pre-existing symptoms in already troubled individuals.”  As all prior ALERTS or E-Memos have focused on VTRA, this ALERT will begin with key points regarding traumatic aftermath and will conclude with key points regarding VTRA.

Crises/Trauma Response – The Traumatic Event Systems (TES) Model

Key Points:

1.     First principle of Crisis/Trauma Response is “model calmness.”

2.     A standard of Psychological First Aid is that traumatized individuals will often seek us out if we present ourselves as safe to approach and available.

3.     Communication regarding where and when counselling and support services will be offered is essential; and having the right “types” of helpers there is paramount. This can be a well-organized combination of skilled therapists/counsellors and naturally skilled helpers under the direction of a clearly identified team leader.

4.     Some individuals may not seek out services, and yet are in need of intervention and may need professionals to “over function” on their behalf by identifying them and making the first contact.

5.     School staff, district leaders, helping professionals from the community and others should formally meet as often as necessary to identify and then triage those we believe may currently be at the highest level of risk. The following are key criteria:

Potentional High Risk Students:

Note: This criteria may be applied to assess potential risk of staff and parents as well:

·                    anyone whose senses were activated by traumatic stimuli (i.e. students and staff who witness a school incident).

·                    immediate family members.

·                    relatives.

·                    close friends.

·                    boyfriend/girlfriend.

·                    team mates.

·                    ex-boyfriend(s)/girlfriend(s).

·                    classmates.

·                    students, staff, parents with active mental health concerns (i.e., suicidal ideation, severe depression, anxiety disorder…).

·                    students, staff, parents who abuse drugs and alcohol.

·                    students, staff, parents with a significant emotional tie with the deceased…….positive or negative.  (This includes any individual who was involved in an adversarial relationship with a victim.)

·                    students, staff and parents who have experienced an historical or recent loss such as the death of a parent, sibling, friend, spouse, etc.

·                    students, staff, parents with unresolved abuse/trauma.

·                    leaders or over-responsible students, staff and parents who may blame themselves for “not seeing the signs” or not “knowing what to do”.

·                    any individual who you intuitively suspect may be at risk.

6.     In the aftermath of a high-profile traumatic event there is a belief that those in the community most impacted only want help from people they know. However, our experience is that “some” people only want help from people they know while “other” people will only want help from people they do not know. Therefore a combination of local and outside supports is the best intervention.

7.     Trauma Response Continuum – ensure that everyone understands that the response to trauma is on a continuum from individuals who may not be impacted at all, to those with profound symptoms, and every possible response in between. As well, some may have acute symptoms only, while others may have chronic symptoms.

8.     It is very common to have either delayed or denied responses to trauma. A delayed response comes from individuals who are either required by their profession, or by nature in their families or friendship groups, to be a formal or natural leader. If traumatized, many of these individuals do not exhibit symptoms until weeks, months or a year after the first anniversary has passed; and when those they were helping are now stable.

9.     Everyone has a “right” to be as impacted as they need to be. Sadly, after many high profile tragedies many people will ridicule others saying they don’t have a right to be traumatized, because “they barely knew the deceased/victim(s)”.  Especially during a high profile trauma, people’s personal histories of grief, loss and trauma from the past, have a way of converging as the current loss feels like they are reliving the past. BE COMPASSIONATE.

10.  All systems go! In the Traumatic Event Systems (TES) Model we focus on ensuring that services are delivered to those most immediately impacted first. Then, in general, students (children and youth) are the next priority, followed by school staff, and parents/caregivers. In many cases, where crisis/trauma response efforts either had no real effect, or made matters worse, it was because professionals focused on the students only and failed to support staff and parents.  All systems go means we take care of:

·        Students (children and youth)

·        Staff (teachers, support staff and administration)

·        Parents/Caregivers (including other adult community members who are connected to or impacted by the aftermath of a tragedy)

11.    Communication:  Staff need to be communicated with openly so they understand all of the key circumstances that may affect them and their students, as well as know how they can help and be helped. Parent/Caregiver meetings also need to occur to educate parents how to determine if their children are doing okay and if not, what to do and where to go. Professionals need to assist some parents with how to talk to their children by modeling through how we talk to parents. Parents/Caregivers also need our support, as during Traumatic Events we consistently see dramatic symptom development in parents, especially if they feel they do NOT have a right to be traumatized and yet are bearing the weight of the symptoms. BE COMPASSIONATE.

12.    School district leadership, police, city/town councils, cultural leaders, mental health, social services, health regions and others need to be publicly seen together from time to time for press conference updates and privately seen together for parent/community meetings, staff meetings etc. One of the most powerful ways to “model calmness” for the entire community is for these agencies to truly collaborate together. We can “feel” if we are in good hands. BE COMPASSIONATE.

Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA)

Key Points:

1.     It is essential to stay hyper-vigilant when receiving any reports of students, staff, parents or others exhibiting “worrisome behaviours”. Because of how high profile this incident is we should also be watchful of anyone who may be struggling at this time.

2.     Be aware that if there is a shift in the behavioural baseline of a student it is important to collect data in collaboration with local support agencies and conduct other assessments prior to taking any disciplinary measures. “Stage I Threat Assessment (VTRA) trumps suspension”.

3.     The school/police relationship is the foundation for Stage 1 Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and staff should be formally connecting with each other to review the VTRA protocol/process. Mental health, child protection, probation and other related community partners should be informed as to the contents of this ALERT.

4.     Pay close attention to VTRA cases where the individual being assessed has inordinate knowledge of violent incidents worldwide or seems fixated on this recent incident.

5.     Identification with the Aggressor: “The more a troubled individual identifies with the aggressor the more it will increase their level of risk”. Therefore, pay close attention to the media coverage about details of the alleged perpetrator. The profile they create and/or glean from social media about the shooter will provide insight to VTRA team members across the country as to who may be contextually high risk, because they are caught within this current impact zone.

6.     Reminder that a critical period is a ‘predictable time frame for increased threat- making or threat-related behaviour’ that will extend at least two weeks beyond the extensive media coverage and social media reports. Because of social media the critical period in La Loche will last the longest followed by the Province of Saskatchewan. The rest of the countries critical period should be as already noted.

7.     All VTRA cases that come to your attention need to include a comprehensive review of the individuals’ online behaviour and digital footprint as that is where we find the most blatant pre-incident signs and indicators. The role that social media plays as both a risk enhancer as well as a prominent contributing source of VTRA data has never been stronger. An accurate VTRA risk determination cannot be made without reviewing the entirety of their digital baseline.

8.     We need to “strategically” intensify our connections with our highest risk children and youth (as well as staff and parents and caregivers) who may be “Empty Vessels”. Remember “no one can engage in a serious act of violence unless they feel “justified” in attacking that target or type of target”. The power of positive, meaningful human connection is one of the best violence prevention strategies we can utilize.

9.     Every high-baseline school should be provided, if deemed necessary, with an increase in visibility of our School Resource Officers or other police of jurisdiction during the first couple of days back to school. The presence of a relaxed police officer interacting with students, staff and parents in the beginning of the day can help to lower the anxiety for schools across the country that may have had their own histories of violence or other traumas.

CONCLUSION

We are aware that in some regions of the country where signed VTRA Protocols exist the task of giving “Fair Notice” about the protocol has not been completed or not done at all. As noted in the 9th Edition of the “Community Protocol for Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Intervention”:

Prior to any violence threat risk assessment (VTRA) protocol being implemented, all students, staff, and parents should be provided with information about the protocol and procedures so that “fair notice” is given that violence and threats of violence will not be tolerated. Senior school division and community agency personnel should take the lead in presenting the protocol to ensure that students, parents and staff are all aware that the new protocol is a jurisdiction-wide policy and that a consistent message is given regarding its use.

Fair Notice can be given through letters to parents, brochures, media releases, parent meetings, staff meetings, new student orientation or all of the above. School districts/divisions may also include a brief “Fair Notice” statement in student “agendas”.

In the least we need to educate staff to know what they should report; when to report; and to whom. A 15 to 30 minute staff meeting where those trained in VTRA can give a quick overview will help to inoculate untrained professionals to be more aware.

On the short-term we recommend that all VTRA protocol jurisdictions provide a brief overview (or refresher) of the basics of the model such as:

·        Serious violence is an evolutionary process – no one just snaps.

·        Everyone moves along a “Pathway of Justification”.

·        The biggest problem in the aftermath of high-profile violence is “under reaction” to often blatant indicators someone is moving on a pathway to serious violence.

·        First hypothesis in threat assessment “It’s a cry for help”!

·        Second hypothesis in threat assessment “conspiracy of two or more”.

·        The Quote that Kills: “Good Student (Nice Staff) with no history of violence can’t believe they would do it” as justification for not reporting a threat.

·        Empty Vessels

There is no question that as a country we have been doing amazing work in strengthening multi-agency collaboration in a number of areas including Violence Threat Risk Assessment. The outpouring of support for our friends and colleagues in La Loche has been an example of this and while hearts are broken, the unconquerable Saskatchewan spirit is evident even in this struggle. Be compassionate; be open and be truly “available” during this critical phase.

J. Kevin Cameron, M.Sc., R.S.W., B.C.E.T.S., B.C.S.C.R.

Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress

Diplomate, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress

Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment & Trauma Response
Theresa Campbell, M.A.

President, Safer Schools Together Ltd.

TikTok Ban

TikTok Ban, Now What?

TikTok Ban

Trump Administration Bans TikTok in the United States. Photo courtesy of Kon Karampelas.


TikTok is banned in the U.S.

The Trump administration announced plans this week to restrict access to TikTok in the United States starting Sunday, September 20th. While existing users can continue to use the app on their devices, updates will not be supported and new users will not be able to download the app.

The ban of TikTok and WeChat (the largest chat platform in China) comes because of concerns of both apps’ collection of American citizens’ personal data. TikTok gained popularity by allowing users to post short video clips set to music. Videos can be edited with filters and manipulated in different ways. Content creators can and have used this platform to gain overnight success by posting a single viral video. This has been the reason for TikTok’s explosive growth—the app allows everyday people to become internet sensations.

“It’s more of an entertainment platform than lifestyle one, which is why it’s been so popular. This type of content isn’t going away,” says Colton Easton, Threat Analyst Manager for Safer Schools Together. “There’s going to be a move towards other platforms.”

Charli D'Amelio TikTok

Popular TikTok creator Charli D’Amelio recently joined rival app Triller.


The Future of TikTok Followers and Influencers:

Some of the platforms Easton mentions are: Triller, Byte, and Instagram Reels. Content creators, including TikTok’s most prolific user, 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio, have already begun to explore other platforms. D’Amelio, who has over 85 million followers on TikTok recently started a Triller account, that gained 1.2 million followers in two days.

When creators switch platforms, the followers will too. “The app will still be used, but we’re predicting a slow burn out of the app for consumers and creators using TikTok,” says Easton. “We’ll see this more when new features are added to these other platforms like Triller and Instagram Reels.”

 

Safer Schools Together (SST) provides Digital Threat Assessment training to Law Enforcement and School Districts across North America. All aspects of school safety and threats to schools now involve a social media or online component and it’s important to be prepared. To learn more about SST’s services, email info@saferschoolstogether.com.

Trauma Informed Return to School

What is Trauma Informed Practice?

Trauma Informed Return to School

What is Trauma Informed Practice?

Trauma Informed Practice is a way for schools to allow learning to occur by supporting the brain-based skill deficits that occur when children and youth have experienced trauma.  When they experience on-going stress, their brains can’t take in and later recall information; their executive functioning skills are compromised. Trauma impacted children, and youth have difficulty managing and expressing emotions, understanding causes and effect, and the signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Is it important for everyone to be trauma informed?

If educators and other staff understand that certain behaviours are related to traumatic experiences they can shift the school environment and adjust classroom practices to respond effectively. With some simple strategies, teachers, education assistants, counsellors, and other school staff can support students in creating environments where they can learn.

Is it important for students to be aware of Trauma Informed Practice?

It is helpful for students to be aware of how anxiety and trauma affect their well-being and understand that anxiety is normal and helpful in some situations. Fight, flight or freeze is the physiological response to stress or danger and can be uncomfortable when they don’t know it is happening. If students can sense when they’re escalating in their behaviour or feelings, they can self regulate and use coping strategies that work for them.

What are some symptoms of trauma educators might see upon return to school in light of the COVD-19 pandemic and physical distancing guidelines?

Some symptoms of trauma educators might see upon the students’ return to school include heightened anxiety, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, and intense emotions. Organizing, planning, starting and finishing tasks, understanding different points of view can also be difficult for students who have experienced trauma.

What can you do to support students’ return to school?

It is helpful to understand what type of trauma students may have been exposed to while physical distancing. Educators can support the students’ return to school by identifying signs of trauma, building relationships and restoring school and classroom activities with necessary modifications. Trauma informed practice will include teaching students how to be calm by modelling it and building regulating activities (e.g. deep breathing while hand washing or while others are completing the screening tool) into classroom routines. Remember that behaviour is likely a result of hyper-arousal and requires a thoughtful and supportive response.

 

For more on this topic and implementing a trauma informed approach in your school, check out SST’s Trauma Informed Return to School training sessions:

For (Individual) Elementary School Educators
For (Group) Elementary School Educators

For (Individual) Secondary School Educators
For (Group) Secondary School Educators

For (Individual) Parents
For (Group) Parents

Mindful Hand Washing image

Mindful Hand Washing for Everyone – FREE download

Mindful Handwashing

As schools prepare for the return to physical spaces, it’s important to take the mental health of staff and students into consideration. Fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 can lead our students to have different emotional responses and mental health concerns.

The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Download and print this poster for each of your school’s hand washing stations—it can serve as an important reminder to incorporate mindfulness into your hand washing routine throughout the day. Routinely practicing mindfulness can help you remain calm and grounded as you go about your daily tasks.

Click below to download:

Mindful handwashing – Poster

Police in Schools – SST’s Theresa Campbell weighs in

Theresa Campbell, President and CEO of Safer Schools Together, spoke to CKNW’s Lynda Steele about the debate surrounding the removal of School Resource Officers (SROs) in schools. Campbell cited the 2018 study conducted by Carleton University’s Dr. Linda Duxbury and Dr. Craig Bennell that concluded, “Peel Regional Police’s $9-million School Resource Officer (SRO) program reducing crime and bullying while providing extensive social and economic benefits estimated at 11 times the cost.”

Click here to listen.

Digital safety for today’s schools and families

Our Senior Threat Analyst Nick Chernoff was recently featured on Safe and Sound Schools’ Tuesdays at the Table. Chernoff talked with Michelle Gay and her team about both the good and bad trends that we are seeing young people engage in online. Watch below for some of the ways parents can navigate the online world and help their children foster healthy connections during COVID-19.

Increasing Safety in a Remote Learning World

In times where physical classrooms may not be an option, connection with your students in a safe remote setting is crucial for their emotional and mental wellbeing. This resource is to help you better understand how to provide a safe digital classroom using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Classroom.

Digital Connections with Students During COVID-19

During this pandemic and as we practice physical distancing, it’s more important now than ever that we ensure strong connections with our students. Relationships between adults and students are the most important factor in promoting safe, healthy, and caring school communities. Schools and school districts should continuously be developing innovative strategies to make every student feel valued, respected, safe, wanted and connected during this unprecedented time. For some of our students:

School connectedness is the most important protective factor in a young person’s life.

Click here to view/download the Digital Connections with Students During COVID-19 information package

Mass School Attack Florida: Feb 2018

Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why”

PRELIMINARY ALERT – Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why”

We are receiving numerous calls with questions and concerns regarding the trending Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”, specifically regarding its use as a suicide prevention educational resource. The producers of the series have stated that they wanted the show to assist those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. The series does highlight the consequences of youth who are bystanders to such incidents and do not report them to an adult, and attempts to address a myriad of other topics such as rape, sex shaming, bullying and drunk driving.

Our primary concern regarding the use of this series as an educational resource is around the potential impact on youth who are vulnerable, have a history of trauma, are victims of related content, or are currently struggling with suicidal ideation. The overall content is very heavy (including the graphic depiction of a suicide death) and it is quite likely many of you are already seeing the impact of these complex traumatic triggers in your school community. While we are not aware of a single case where a student has said exposure to this documentary has lowered their risk, we do know of multiple cases (coast to coast) where it has increased their risk. In some communities, we are also already seeing imitator behaviour involving increased levels of suicidal ideation and individuals making their own version of “justification tapes”.

We are engaged in this discussion not to interfere with the professional autonomy of our educators, but to ensure the social, emotional and mental well-being of all staff and students. With this in mind, we offer the following recommendations to schools where this series is being considered for use in the classroom:

  • District staff and school administrators should work with counselling staff to be available as consultants to any teacher considering portioned uses of the series.
  • School administrators should feel confident that any professional inside their school considering the use of this medium is skilled to do so and that the school has adequate counselling contingencies to address any symptom development generated from the series.
  • Any episode or clips depicting method used to complete suicide should not be shown in the school setting.
  • District or school staff may want to issue a communication to parents to inform them about the series and strategies for discussing the content with their children (see “guidance for families” section of the NASP article below).
  • District or school staff may want to share the tips in the “guidance to educators” section of the NASP article below with those staff members that play a key role in supporting vulnerable students.

The following recent professional articles provide guidance for educators and parents:

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Sherri Mohoruk (604) 868-3949.

 

Sincerely,

Kevin Cameron, M.Sc., R.S.W., B.C.E.T.S., B.C.S.C.R.

Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress

Diplomat, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress

Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment & Trauma Response

Theresa Campbell, M.A.

President, Safer Schools Together Ltd.

 

Download PDF Version of Alert – Preliminary Alert – 13 Reasons Why

Extended Critical Period Violence Threat Risk Assessment

Extended Critical Period Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) And Traumatic Aftermath

April 18, 2017

As many are aware, we are experiencing the largest extended critical period we have ever faced as we head into this week’s anniversary of Columbine. This critical period has been exacerbated by the ongoing dynamic political climate. There have been a number of recent hate crimes that were identified through the Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) process responding to threat-related behaviour. These include: cultural/ethnic specific threats and incidents of violence, violence against sexual and gender minorities. We are expecting that this critical period will take us to the end of the academic year. This will increase the complexity of our work, as professionals, children and youth alike become increasingly tired as the school year winds down.

As the more recent high-profile incidents have not occurred in our country we need to be reminded that Canada is not immune to these types of incidents. In the field of VTRA we distinguish between “Traditional” versus “Non-Traditional” offenders and most of the high-profile crimes are being committed by the Non-Traditional (those with no history of violence until they commit the crime). We have also never seen a time in which serious violence and the justification for it has become so widespread and commonplace. Therefore, as has always been a theme in these ALERTS, increase your connections with those you are most concerned about.

It is clear that we need to recognize the work of our school communities and all partner agencies throughout the country in the field of VTRA. We would prefer these high profile targeted incidents of violence were not occurring but we have seen many proactive targeted prevention and intervention plans developed and implemented. We need to remind ourselves that through thoughtful collaboration and good information sharing, without a doubt, more lives have been saved than lost.

Different than previous Alerts where we provide VTRA specific reminders, we want to acknowledge your work, and also remind your communities about the importance of the community protocols and the need to revisit existing protocols to determine the need for any changes or additions. Take this time to celebrate your work, dedication, and commitment to the VTRA process and most of all take care of yourself and your own well-being.

Here in British Columbia, we should celebrate the current and ongoing commitment to this work by all levels of government through the ERASE strategy.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us directly.

Sincerely,

Kevin Cameron, M.Sc., R.S.W., B.C.E.T.S., B.C.S.C.R.

Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress

Diplomate, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress

Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment & Trauma Response

Theresa Campbell, M.A.

President, Safer Schools Together Ltd.

Download April 2017 Alert PDF:

Digital Threat Assessment Hinges On Education, Awareness

“A lot of people are still unaware how digital presence influences overall risk,”said Theresa Campbell, President of Safer Schools Together in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.  This excerpt titled “Digital Threat Assessment Hinges On Education, Awareness” courtesy of LRP Publications 2017.

Download entire article here:

 

 

Abbotsford B.C. High School Stabbings

ALERT
November 2nd, 2016
Abbotsford, B.C., High School Stabbing
Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Traumatic Aftermath

Dealing with the Aftermath of a High Profile Tragedy

Sadly the tragic stabbing attack at Abbotsford Senior Secondary has ensued in the death of a student and another listed in stable condition.

Due to the extensive coverage nationally and internationally through news media/social media this has created a critical period for our province and beyond. We are now in a “critical period” which is a predictable timeframe for increases in worrisome, threat making or threat-related behaviours that will extend at least two weeks beyond when the media coverage subsides.

Of utmost importance for professionals and parents to understand is that high-profile trauma intensifies already existing symptoms in identified vulnerable, and troubled youth. This can include those who identify with the victims and those who identify with the alleged perpetrator increasing their justification for targeting youth through bullying, threats, or other acts of violence.

Being caught within the “impact zone” of a high profile trauma means that some youth may be impacted by the widespread coverage of the violent incident.

For those who have recently experienced threats or acts of violence this incident could cause traumatic stimuli for them and it is important to reach out to such students at this time.

Given that we have seen an increase in worrisome and threat-related behaviour throughout BC and across Canada, it is important to be mindful of any changes in the behavioural baselines of students.

Due to the critical period and the impact zone that this current tragic event has created it is important to be aware of any students that may self identify throughout this time and ensure that your VTRA process is followed by continuing to collect data in collaboration with local support agencies prior to taking any disciplinary measures.

Given the viral nature of viewing of this incident it is imperative that our counselling and support staff have the resources to respond to any conscious or unconscious cries for help as they may emerge throughout the critical period. One of our greatest concerns is the number of our students who have watched once, or multiple times, the actual video of the incident. This may be important information for staff and parents to know when dealing with students exhibiting worrisome behaviour.

Please find attached some guidelines for staff and parents which may assist when working through this traumatic event.

J. Kevin Cameron, M.Sc., R.S.W., B.C.E.T.S., B.C.S.C.R.
Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress
Diplomate, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress
Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment & Trauma Response

Theresa Campbell, M.A.
President, Safer Schools Together Ltd.

PDF version of this alert available here – abbotsford-november-2016

Attachments:

guidelines-for-parents

guidelines-for-staff-dealing-with-traumatic-events-3

 

 

Clown Threats Safety Bulletin

ALERT – Clown Threats Safety Bulletin

October 6, 2016

As many of you are probably aware we have been dealing with multiple “clown” threat incidents in BC and throughout North America. These incidents are typically referencing kidnapping or targeting schools with threats of violence.

Read More:

safety-bulletin-clown-oct-2016-11079441

Orlando Florida Nightclub Shootings – ALERT – June 12, 2016

ALERT

June 12th, 2016

Orlando Florida Nightclub Shootings

Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Traumatic Aftermath

 

The worst mass shooting in American history brings with it a very complex dynamic, which is the intersecting of Criminal Radicalization and Hate Crimes against one of the most vulnerable groups in North America. Early indicators are that the perpetrator heeded the call of international terrorists to target “gay nightclubs” on North American soil. The “call” for someone who is not fully committed to engage in serious violence and attack a random nightclub would be difficult. But with the current divisiveness in the United States around Gay Marriage and other LGBTQ related topics, the “call” to target Sexual and Gender Minorities is far more “justifiable” in the minds of both radicalized and hateful individuals and groups. Although the Canadian climate is generally better than that of our American counterparts on issues of promoting acceptance, there are plenty of recent hate crimes involving violence against sexual and gender minorities in our own Country as well.

 

*NOTE: This ALERT is done in collaboration with our colleague Dr. André P. Grace, Canada Research Chair in Sexual and Gender Minority Studies at the University of Alberta.

 

Part One Violence Threat Risk Assessment

 

  1. We are currently in the first Critical Period that will take us to the end of the academic year. This period is more complex as professionals, children and youth alike are all tired as the school year winds down.
  2. As this is clearly targeted towards sexual and gender minorities, we must be very attentive to both these vulnerable youth and those you know have targeted them in the past.
  3. Of equal concern is these youth now have the most tangible evidence of how hated they really are by some in our communities. Therefore our efforts to be connected to them during this period are paramount. (It would be appropriate to formally identify healthy staff that has a connection with LGBTQ youth and have them directly ask those youth how they are doing in the aftermath of the Florida Shootings).
  4. Also show caring concern for staff and parents who are sexual and gender minorities.
  5. This tragedy will increase the justification process for bullying, mean behavior and acts of violence.
  6. In recent traumatic events across North America we have seen a significant increase in the use of anonymous based social media platforms to spread and incite hatred. Depending on your region, a variety of anonymous apps may be popular including: Ask.fm, Yik Yak, Whisper, and Ogle. Given the inherent lack of accountability with anonymous platforms, we need to remain vigilant in monitoring these platforms for any escalation of targeted hatred.
  7. Several posts through social networking by ‘so called’ Christians in the United States have supported the Orlando attack calling it an “act of God” which will also increase the risk for suicidality amongst gender and sexual minorities.

 

Part Two Impact on Sexual and Gender Minorities

 

Sexual and gender minorities compose a demographically complex population, which WorldPride 2014 organizers in Toronto described using the LGBTTIQQ2SA acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, questioning, queer, two-spirited and allies. While the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects this diverse group against discrimination on the grounds of sexual and gender differences, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia persist. By virtues of their ages and ongoing development, sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth are particularly vulnerable in our schools and communities. They continue to experience adversity and trauma caused by an array of stressors that can affect their physical and mental health and make them prone to risk taking and various negative life outcomes including substance abuse and suicide ideation, attempts, and completions. An event like the terrorist attack on the LGBTQ community in Orlando can be a real trigger for SGM youth who may be fearful and even traumatized in the aftermath of such horror. Moreover, it can lead to targeting of SGM youth, which Anthony D’Augelli, an expert on victimization and mental health among high-risk youth, calls retaliatory dangers. Thus the attack can be a trigger for bullies and other aggressive youth and adults who would target vulnerable SGM youth.

 

In the aftermath of the heinous crime in Orlando, Principals, teachers, guidance counselors, and other caring professionals need to ensure the health, wellbeing, safety, and security of SGM students in our schools and communities. Here are some key considerations:

  1. It is important to monitor the behavior and treatment of SGM youth, especially those who are out and visible, since they can be particularly vulnerable and subjected to symbolic violence (such as name-calling and graffiti on lockers and in washrooms) as well as physical violence (such as bullying behaviors that may include physical assaults).
  2. In recent years Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Clubs have become more common in Canadian schools. SGM youth view them as safe spaces where they can socialize and talk about issues important to them. It is important to be vigilant about safety and security around GSA meetings, since they can be a targeted site for inflicting hurt on congregated SGM youth and their allies. Principals and teacher facilitators of these clubs have a particular responsibility to take care here.
  3. It is also important to talk to youth about websites and social media that tend to accelerate homo/bi/transphobic narratives and targeting of sexual and gender minorities in the aftermath of events like the Orlando massacre. Angry, disenfranchised youth can be particularly influenced when they are exposed to negative messaging and calls to engage in imitative (copycat) activities.

Part Three Resources

Educators need to build knowledge and understanding of sexual and gender minority youth and those who would perpetrate violence against them in schools and communities. To assist you in educational and outreach initiatives, explore and use the following resources:

  1. Advice for educators and an array of other resources focused on supporting sexual and gender minority (LGBTQ) youth and addressing their comprehensive health issues, can be found at http://chewproject.ca/resources/.
  2. In September 2015, the University of Toronto Press released André P. Grace’s new book entitled Growing into Resilience: Sexual and Gender Minority Youth in Canada. Part II is co-authored with Kristopher Wells. The book argues that, despite recent progress in civil rights for sexual and gender minorities (LGBTQ) in Canada, ensuring SGM youth experience fairness, justice, inclusion, safety, and security at school remains an ongoing challenge. It investigates how teachers, healthcare workers, and other professionals can help SGM youth build the human and material assets that will empower them to be happy, healthy, hopeful, and resilient. The book draws upon the personal narratives of SGM youth, emphasizing ways to link research, policy, and practice so youth can thrive. As a resource for those professionally engaged in work with SGM youth as a diverse sub-population of youth, Growing into Resilience is a timely and useful book. It includes a typology focused on stressors, risk taking, asset building, and indicators of thriving. For more details, visit http://www.ismss.ualberta.ca/AndreGrace and click on the order form.
  3. On May 17, 2016, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) released Grace and Wells’ new Canadian resource, which is published in English and French. The resource is entitled Sexual and Gender Minorities in Canadian Education and Society (1969-2013): A National Handbook for K-12 Educators. This detailed resource examines what has been done in Canada to improve the situation of sexual and gender minorities (LGBTQ persons) in Canadian society and, more specifically, in education since the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969. In it, educators will find a wealth of ideas, resources, and practices to help them deal with this important equity issue. For more information, visit http://www.ismss.ualberta.ca/AndreGrace and click on the order form.

Conclusion

As noted by President Barack Obama, there were more mass shootings in the United States last year then there are days in the Calendar: meaning on average over one per day in 2015! Canada is not immune to this contemporary phenomenon. In the field of Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) we distinguish between “Traditional” versus “Non-Traditional” Offenders and most of the high profile crimes are being committed by the non-traditionals (those with no history of violence until they commit the crime). We have also never seen a time in which serious violence and the justification for it has become so widespread and commonplace. Therefore, as has always been a theme in these ALERTS, increase your connections with those you are most concerned about. This includes potential violent offenders and potential victims, as we want them to know they can come to us for help.

 

There is a special obligation for faith-based school staff and other professionals to prioritize the obligation to “love thy neighbour as thyself”over religious beliefs that put sexual and gender minorities in a negative light. At the end of the day, all educators and other professionals are required by their codes of professional conduct to be ethical and caring. This means we all need to be there for every student across differences including sexual orientation and gender variation.

Sincerely,

 

 

Kevin Cameron, M.Sc., R.S.W., B.C.E.T.S., B.C.S.C.R.

Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress

Diplomate, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress

Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response

 

Theresa Campbell, M.A.

President, Safer Schools Together Ltd.

 

André P. Grace, Ph.D.

Canada Research Chair in Sexual and Gender Minority Studies (Tier 1)

Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Director of Research, iSMSS

University of Alberta

 

CANADIAN CENTRE FOR THREAT ASSESSMENT & TRAUMA RESPONSE

Box 1102, Lethbridge, AB, T1J 4A2 – Tel: (403) 394-9468

Fax: (403) 388-0454 – Web: www.cctatr.com – E-mail: kerry@cctatr.com

SAFER SCHOOLS TOGETHER

#209 15335 34th Ave Surrey, V3S 3W3 – Tel: (604)560-2285

Web:www.saferschoostogether.com – E-mail: saferschoolstogether@gmail.com

La Loche, Saskatchewan Shootings – ALERT – 24 January 2016

ALERT
La Loche, Saskatchewan Shootings

Traumatic Aftermath
and
Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA)

 

“The fields of Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Crisis/Trauma Response are inseparably connected.” J. Kevin Cameron

In the aftermath of the shootings in La Loche, Saskatchewan, we now have a national critical period for both increased threats to duplicate the crime, as well as a critical period for an increase in trauma symptoms.  This threat is not just at ground zero (where the traumatic event occurred) but in many schools and communities across the Country (impact zone). Although high profile shootings have spiked dramatically in the United States, the tragedy in La Loche is the highest profile incident in a Canadian High School since the 1999 school shooting in Taber, Alberta.  A tragedy of this magnitude on our soil means we are in the most significant school-based critical period we have experienced as a country, in almost 17 years. As such, this ALERT will remain in effect longer than usual to include as much condensed information as possible.

Whether the case is VTRA, Crisis/Trauma Response or both, remember that high-profile violence does not cause people to go from zero (no risk) to sixty (extreme risk) – instead it simply “intensifies pre-existing symptoms in already troubled individuals.”  As all prior ALERTS or E-Memos have focused on VTRA, this ALERT will begin with key points regarding traumatic aftermath and will conclude with key points regarding VTRA.

 

 

Crises/Trauma Response – The Traumatic Event Systems (TES) Model

Key Points:

  1. First principle of Crisis/Trauma Response is “model calmness.”

 

  1. A standard of Psychological First Aid is that traumatized individuals will often seek us out if we present ourselves as safe to approach and available.

 

  1. Communication regarding where and when counselling and support services will be offered is essential; and having the right “types” of helpers there is paramount. This can be a well-organized combination of skilled therapists/counsellors and naturally skilled helpers under the direction of a clearly identified team leader.

 

  1. Some individuals may not seek out services, and yet are in need of intervention and may need professionals to “over function” on their behalf by identifying them and making the first contact.

 

  1. School staff, district leaders, helping professionals from the community and others should formally meet as often as necessary to identify and then triage those we believe may currently be at the highest level of risk. The following are key criteria:

Potentional High Risk Students:

Note: This criteria may be applied to assess potential risk of staff and parents as well:

  • anyone whose senses were activated by traumatic stimuli (i.e. students and staff who witness a school incident).
  • immediate family members.
  • close friends.
  • boyfriend/girlfriend.
  • team mates.
  • ex-boyfriend(s)/girlfriend(s).
  • students, staff, parents with active mental health concerns (i.e., suicidal ideation, severe depression, anxiety disorder…).
  • students, staff, parents who abuse drugs and alcohol.
  • students, staff, parents with a significant emotional tie with the deceased…….positive or negative. (This includes any individual who was involved in an adversarial relationship with a victim.)
  • students, staff and parents who have experienced an historical or recent loss such as the death of a parent, sibling, friend, spouse, etc.
  • students, staff, parents with unresolved abuse/trauma.
  • leaders or over-responsible students, staff and parents who may blame themselves for “not seeing the signs” or not “knowing what to do”.
  • any individual who you intuitively suspect may be at risk.

 

  1. In the aftermath of a high-profile traumatic event there is a belief that those in the community most impacted only want help from people they know. However, our experience is that “some” people only want help from people they know while “other” people will only want help from people they do not know. Therefore a combination of local and outside supports is the best intervention.

 

  1. Trauma Response Continuum – ensure that everyone understands that the response to trauma is on a continuum from individuals who may not be impacted at all, to those with profound symptoms, and every possible response in between. As well, some may have acute symptoms only, while others may have chronic symptoms.

 

  1. It is very common to have either delayed or denied responses to trauma. A delayed response comes from individuals who are either required by their profession, or by nature in their families or friendship groups, to be a formal or natural leader. If traumatized, many of these individuals do not exhibit symptoms until weeks, months or a year after the first anniversary has passed; and when those they were helping are now stable.

 

  1. Everyone has a “right” to be as impacted as they need to be. Sadly, after many high profile tragedies many people will ridicule others saying they don’t have a right to be traumatized, because “they barely knew the deceased/victim(s)”. Especially during a high profile trauma, people’s personal histories of grief, loss and trauma from the past, have a way of converging as the current loss feels like they are reliving the past. BE COMPASSIONATE.

 

  1. All systems go! In the Traumatic Event Systems (TES) Model we focus on ensuring that services are delivered to those most immediately impacted first. Then, in general, students (children and youth) are the next priority, followed by school staff, and parents/caregivers. In many cases, where crisis/trauma response efforts either had no real effect, or made matters worse, it was because professionals focused on the students only and failed to support staff and parents. All systems go means we take care of:

 

  • Students (children and youth)
  • Staff (teachers, support staff and administration)
  • Parents/Caregivers (including other adult community members who are connected to or impacted by the aftermath of a tragedy)

 

  1. Communication: Staff need to be communicated with openly so they understand all of the key circumstances that may affect them and their students, as well as know how they can help and be helped. Parent/Caregiver meetings also need to occur to educate parents how to determine if their children are doing okay and if not, what to do and where to go. Professionals need to assist some parents with how to talk to their children by modeling through how we talk to parents. Parents/Caregivers also need our support, as during Traumatic Events we consistently see dramatic symptom development in parents, especially if they feel they do NOT have a right to be traumatized and yet are bearing the weight of the symptoms. BE COMPASSIONATE.

 

  1. School district leadership, police, city/town councils, cultural leaders, mental health, social services, health regions and others need to be publicly seen together from time to time for press conference updates and privately seen together for parent/community meetings, staff meetings etc. One of the most powerful ways to “model calmness” for the entire community is for these agencies to truly collaborate together. We can “feel” if we are in good hands. BE COMPASSIONATE.

 

 

 

Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA)

Key Points:

  1. It is essential to stay hyper-vigilant when receiving any reports of students, staff, parents or others exhibiting “worrisome behaviours”. Because of how high profile this incident is we should also be watchful of anyone who may be struggling at this time.

 

  1. Be aware that if there is a shift in the behavioural baseline of a student it is important to collect data in collaboration with local support agencies and conduct other assessments prior to taking any disciplinary measures. “Stage I Threat Assessment (VTRA) trumps suspension”.

 

  1. The school/police relationship is the foundation for Stage 1 Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and staff should be formally connecting with each other to review the VTRA protocol/process. Mental health, child protection, probation and other related community partners should be informed as to the contents of this ALERT.

 

  1. Pay close attention to VTRA cases where the individual being assessed has inordinate knowledge of violent incidents worldwide or seems fixated on this recent incident.

 

  1. Identification with the Aggressor: “The more a troubled individual identifies with the aggressor the more it will increase their level of risk”. Therefore, pay close attention to the media coverage about details of the alleged perpetrator. The profile they create and/or glean from social media about the shooter will provide insight to VTRA team members across the country as to who may be contextually high risk, because they are caught within this current impact zone.

 

  1. Reminder that a critical period is a ‘predictable time frame for increased threat- making or threat-related behaviour’ that will extend at least two weeks beyond the extensive media coverage and social media reports. Because of social media the critical period in La Loche will last the longest followed by the Province of Saskatchewan. The rest of the countries critical period should be as already noted.

 

 

  1. All VTRA cases that come to your attention need to include a comprehensive review of the individuals’ online behaviour and digital footprint as that is where we find the most blatant pre-incident signs and indicators. The role that social media plays as both a risk enhancer as well as a prominent contributing source of VTRA data has never been stronger. An accurate VTRA risk determination cannot be made without reviewing the entirety of their digital baseline.

 

  1. We need to “strategically” intensify our connections with our highest risk children and youth (as well as staff and parents and caregivers) who may be “Empty Vessels”. Remember “no one can engage in a serious act of violence unless they feel “justified” in attacking that target or type of target”. The power of positive, meaningful human connection is one of the best violence prevention strategies we can utilize.

 

  1. Every high-baseline school should be provided, if deemed necessary, with an increase in visibility of our School Resource Officers or other police of jurisdiction during the first couple of days back to school. The presence of a relaxed police officer interacting with students, staff and parents in the beginning of the day can help to lower the anxiety for schools across the country that may have had their own histories of violence or other traumas.

 

CONCLUSION

We are aware that in some regions of the country where signed VTRA Protocols exist the task of giving “Fair Notice” about the protocol has not been completed or not done at all. As noted in the 9th Edition of the “Community Protocol for Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) and Intervention”:

Prior to any violence threat risk assessment (VTRA) protocol being implemented, all students, staff, and parents should be provided with information about the protocol and procedures so that “fair notice” is given that violence and threats of violence will not be tolerated. Senior school division and community agency personnel should take the lead in presenting the protocol to ensure that students, parents and staff are all aware that the new protocol is a jurisdiction-wide policy and that a consistent message is given regarding its use.

Fair Notice can be given through letters to parents, brochures, media releases, parent meetings, staff meetings, new student orientation or all of the above. School districts/divisions may also include a brief “Fair Notice” statement in student “agendas”.

In the least we need to educate staff to know what they should report; when to report; and to whom. A 15 to 30 minute staff meeting where those trained in VTRA can give a quick overview will help to inoculate untrained professionals to be more aware.

On the short-term we recommend that all VTRA protocol jurisdictions provide a brief overview (or refresher) of the basics of the model such as:

  • Serious violence is an evolutionary process – no one just snaps.
  • Everyone moves along a “Pathway of Justification”.
  • The biggest problem in the aftermath of high-profile violence is “under reaction” to often blatant indicators someone is moving on a pathway to serious violence.
  • First hypothesis in threat assessment “It’s a cry for help”!
  • Second hypothesis in threat assessment “conspiracy of two or more”.
  • The Quote that Kills: “Good Student (Nice Staff) with no history of violence can’t believe they would do it” as justification for not reporting a threat.
  • Empty Vessels

There is no question that as a country we have been doing amazing work in strengthening multi-agency collaboration in a number of areas including Violence Threat Risk Assessment. The outpouring of support for our friends and colleagues in La Loche has been an example of this and while hearts are broken, the unconquerable Saskatchewan spirit is evident even in this struggle. Be compassionate; be open and be truly “available” during this critical phase.

 

Kevin Cameron, M.Sc., R.S.W., B.C.E.T.S., B.C.S.C.R.

Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress

Diplomate, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress

Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment & Trauma Response

 

Theresa Campbell, M.A.

President, Safer Schools Together Ltd.

Paris Alert – 17 November 2015

 

 

For publication 17 November 2015

ALERT: Terrorist Attacks in Paris: North American Implications for Criminal Radicalization

Overview:

As you are aware, we are currently in a Critical Period from the ongoing aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the subsequent air strikes by France against several targets in Syria. These series of Traumatic Events are elevating the anxiety of many Canadians and Americans as the possibility of “imitators”, as understood in the Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) Model. Furthermore organized and committed offenders may be considering action. The attacks are somewhat “innovative” as there were multiple targets at the same time and very broad site selection so as to suggest ‘you are not safe anywhere’: thus the essence of terrorism.

From a general North American perspective, events in war torn countries do not draw the same concern by citizens because that is what is expected (much like cities that fail to pay attention to evolving gang crises because it is the ‘bad guys killing the bad guys’ – It doesn’t hit home until “innocent victims” are killed in the crossfire – then it is viewed as a problem). It would appear from the rhetoric of some Canadians and the actions of others (Mosque set on fire in Ontario) that the attacks in France are viewed as ‘too close to home’ and the heightened anxiety is increasing symptom development of many individuals. The problem is “the higher the anxiety the greater the symptom development” and the risk of triggering or intensifying already existing criminal radicalization in some is very high.

Circularity:

As anger towards so-called Islamic Extremist groups builds in North America, Canadian and American Muslim Communities are too often left to bear the crushing weight of responsibility for acts they did not commit. One growing area of concern is that “empty vessels” who are already depressed and suicidal and looking to kill for a cause, prior to being killed or killing themselves, are drawn to this high profile world issue looking for a way to ‘go out with a bang’. This is not new to us: many of the same types of individuals who were shooting up their schools in the aftermath of Columbine are the same types that are going, or attempting to go, overseas to join the fight or act out here at home. Now we have evolving empty vessels in some cases searching out the Muslim community and other communities/organizations to find a place to fit. Without training in VTRA many community and religious leaders struggle with how to help a troubled individual and even if they worry about criminal radicalization, who can they turn to for support? As the Muslim Community has been targeted themselves we are asking too much to simply say “report and we (professionals) will handle it”. We need to actively look for ways to include Islamic Schools and Muslim leaders in our Community Protocols for VTRA.

The Muslim Community Behind Closed Doors

Muslim community leaders have spoken outright against every terrorist act since 9/11 and continue to do so. This is done to ensure that the general public doesn’t overgeneralize a few incidents and make broad assumptions about the religion as a whole. What remains to be unknown to the public are what conversations and activities are taking place amongst leaders and activists in the Muslim community behind closed doors? It is in these internal dialogues where one can begin to fully understand the impact terrorism has had on everyone; including Muslims.

These internal dialogues are shifting the narrative from ‘talk’ to ‘action’.  More recently, seminars, sermons, workshops, conferences, and counselling programs have been developed and funded solely by the Muslim community to prevent criminal radicalization. In some areas, strong partnerships have been developed between community leaders, government, and law enforcement agencies. According to many leaders, what seems to still need improvement is a multi-agency and comprehensive approach to preventing criminal racialization. Such an approach requires strong working alliances, an increase in opportunities to discuss risk-enhancers and risk-reducers, and an agreed upon framework to work from. However, without trust, very little communication and sustainability is possible.

Trust

In order to develop trust in the Muslim community, understanding is paramount.  In order to better understand the reality of the Muslim community, better data must be collected which ultimately leads to better assessments and interventions. For example, many have commented on ‘radical online messaging’ as an important issue to understand, and certainly it is; however, who is susceptible to such messaging, and why, requires more examination. This detailed analysis from an insider perspective is a key focus of our work and one that includes rather than excludes authentic authors. It is also heavily supported and endorsed by an enormous amount of community leaders, organizations, and members. We are sharing this simply to support the idea that when you put a group of people together and allow them to dialogue as equals, understanding increases and trust quickly follows.

In the Muslim community, it is quite apparent that battling the negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims resulting from high profile terrorism is a daunting task with serious implications. As the community prepares to support thousands of displaced refugees, having to also deal with public relations issues is an added stress that has and can continue to cause burnout in so many dedicated volunteers. As such, front line workers and authentic leaders have been advocating for a more practical and less political approach to solving this problem. Simply put, community leaders believe, and research supports, that if someone who is unaware of the Muslim reality meets a Muslim, they are less likely to have negative attitudes towards them or their faith. This is leading to more Open-Houses in Mosques and other information sessions to offer counter-narratives and counter-examples to combat media generalizations. These are great places to start building trust which can lead to a wide stock of social capital as both insiders and outsiders work together to prevent a shared problem, leading to shared success, and ultimately a better shared society.

Key Points:

1) The school-police relationship is still the foundation for Stage I VTRA and both should be formally connecting with each other to review the VTRA protocol/process. Mental Health, Child Protection, Probation, and other related partners also need to be brought into the loop as to the contents of this communication.

2) Under-reaction is still the biggest problem we have where even VTRA trained professionals, for a variety of reasons, do not activate the protocol.

3) Play close attention to VTRA cases where the individual being assessed has inordinate knowledge of violent incidents worldwide and/or the possession of radical promotional literature.

4) High profile violence does not cause people to go from zero (no risk) to sixty (extreme risk) – instead it simply “intensifies pre-existing symptoms”.

5) The age, gender and socio-economic backgrounds of the perpetrators of these many violent acts is so varied that most high-risk and “primed” for violence individuals can find at least one attack they can identify with (identification with the aggressors). Therefore keep in mind that the more abled a troubled individual can identify with a perpetrator the more it will increase their overall level of risk.

6) The “target selection” has also been very broad from targeted violence of people personally known to the perpetrators to “types of targets” (not personally known but viewed as justifiable targets) such as multiple death homicides of police officers in Moncton, New Brunswick and Las Vegas, Nevada to completely “random target selection” cases. *Therefore “Target Selection” and “Site Selection” are broad and so multiagency collaboration needs to be intensified to meet the current social dynamics.

7) All VTRA cases that come to your attention need to include a comprehensive review of that individuals’ online behaviour and digital footprint as that is where we find the most blatant pre-incident signs and indicators. The role that social media plays as both a risk enhancer to existing ideology as well as a prominent contributing source of VTRA data has never been stronger. An accurate VTRA risk determination cannot be made without reviewing the entirety of their digital baseline.

8) We need to “strategically” intensify our connections with our highest risk children and youth (Empty Vessels) during this time as no one can engage in a serious act of violence unless they feel “justified” in attacking that target or type of target. The power of positive, meaningful human connection is one of the best violence prevention strategies we can easily employ.

Notwithstanding the current climate in North America, the commitment to formalized multi-agency collaboration for Violence Threat Risk Assessment and the development and use VTRA Protocols has set us apart as a leading Nation. Our level of commitment to learn and act together has already made a significant impact across this country, please remain vigilant.

 

Sincerely,

Kevin Cameron, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response

Theresa Campbell, President, Safer Schools Together

Mahdi J. Qasqas, PhD Candidate, President and Founder of 3OWN | Muslim Youth and Family Services,

Provisional Psychologist and Certified Counsellor

Critical Incident Alert – October 2015

ALERTS
As most of you are aware a high profile violent event occurred this week in Oregon.  This violent act generates a ‘critical period’ (predictable time frame for increased threat making and threat related behaviour) throughout the impact zones where immediate coverage exists.

This traumatic event may contribute to an increase in behavioural baseline among some vulnerable students throughout the province and beyond.

We provide the following reminders for consideration:

We are now in a critical period which is a ‘predictable time frame for increased threat-making or threat-related behaviour’ that will extend at least two weeks beyond the extensive media coverage.
It is essential to stay hyper-vigilant when receiving any reports of students exhibiting worrisome behaviour.
Be aware that if there is a shift in the behavioural baseline of a student it is important to collect data in collaboration with local support agencies and conduct other assessments prior to taking any disciplinary measures.
The school/police relationship is the foundation for Stage 1 Violence Threat/Risk Assessment (VTRA) and staff should be formally connecting with each other to review the VTRA protocol/process. Mental health, child protection, probation and other related community partners should be informed as to the contents of this communication.
Under reaction is still the biggest problem we have where VTRA-trained professionals, for different reasons, do not activate the protocol/process.
High profile violence does not cause people to go from zero (no risk) to sixty (extreme risk) – instead it simply “intensifies already existing symptoms”.
All VTRA cases that come to your attention need to include a digital data collection on the person(s) of interest as that is where we find the most blatant pre-incident signs and indicators.
We need to “strategically” intensify our connections with our highest risk children and youth (Empty Vessels) during this time as no one can engage in a serious act of violence unless they feel “justified” in attacking that target or type of target. The power of positive, meaningful human connection is one of the best violence prevention strategies we can easily employ.
To formalize multi agency collaboration for VTRA, and the development/utilization of VTRA protocols, sets us apart as a leading nation in our prevention/intervention success. Our level of commitment to learn and act together continues to save many lives with data driven interventions.

Sincerely,

Kevin Cameron, Executive Director,

Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response

www.cctatr.com

Theresa Campbell, President,

Safer Schools Together

www.saferschoolstogether.com

info@saferschoolstogether.com

Social media leading to ‘social assassination’ among kids

Founder and President of Safer Schools Together, Campbell travels the country and Canada training educators about bullying prevention.  We caught up with her during an all day training session with Desert Sands Unified School District.

“The whole image of self takes a pretty significant hit, if you will, when in fact they’ve got multiple people commenting on their appearances,” said Campbell. The first step, Campbell says, is knowing what sites and apps your kids are on beyond Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

So what can you as a parent do to stop it? Here is what one Valley school district (student) is doing. “I was on Instagram,” said 6th grader Nathaniel Kirby. “He was just making fun of people and bad stuff, spreading rumors about people just making them feel bad about themselves.”

That’s why Campbell is training teachers to look for changes in student behavior and Desert Sands Unified School District is monitoring social networking sites. “It’s our job to investigate it even though it’s happening outside of school.  It’s affecting the well-being of the student which affects their ability to learn,” said DSUSD director of security and safety Jeff Kaye.

Through anti-bullying programs the district hopes  changing the culture at school will stop bullying before it starts.

“It would be just as nice to see more kids step up and remind kids that it’s a good time to be respectful of each other,” said Campbell.

That is exactly what Nathaniel did.

For full article and link to news video, please click on the link below:

http://www.kesq.com/news/social-media-leading-to-social-assassination-among-kids/29933046