DOJ training educators to identify concerning student behaviors, prevent school attacks

Published: Aug. 7, 2019 at 7:30 PM CDT
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At Heritage Elementary School in Waunakee, educators and school resource officers from across the Madison area took part in a digital threat assessment training.

Maribeth Heimann is about to send her son off to kindergarten this fall.

“It’s scary how the world has changed since I was in school,” she said.

In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Heimann has her concerns about safety.

“I’m putting everything in my full hands to the school that they are doing the training and they know what to do,” she said.

Glenn Rehberg, the Deputy Director of the Office of School Safety, says he’s trained law enforcement to respond to a mass attack.

“But it doesn’t matter how great your response is, the harm is already done,” Rehberg said. “The whole point of this training is to really stop this from happening in the first place.”

The training outlined what behavioral signs teachers and school administrators should look for. A new method to identify threats is in the digital field.

Rehberg says social media is an integral part in the lives of the younger generation.

“So the more that we can understand their exposure their thoughts their intents by examining what they’re sharing with peers and classmates and others on social media, the more comprehensive picture we can get on social media of who they are and what they’re thinking,” Rehberg said.

He says it’s not only to prevent a violent attack like a school shooting but also provide help to a student struggling with mental health.

“So that they can get that support to put them on a different pathway,” Rehberg added.

According to the FBI, last year five out of 27 mass casualty shootings happened in educational environments.

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