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Prevent and mitigate targeted violence incidents.

Targeted violence refers to violence that is premeditated and directed at specific individuals, groups, or locations. Perpetrators select their targets to achieve specific motives, such as the resolution of a grievance or to make a political or ideological statement. Targeted violence is distinct from violence that is impulsive, random, or spontaneous and is often distinguished by pre-attack behaviors that suggest violence as a possible outcome. Those behaviors, if identified and addressed, can reduce the likelihood of a targeted violence incident at your school. One practice for preventing targeted school violence is through the use of a multidisciplinary school threat assessment team, comprised of school staff tasked to identify, assess, and intervene with students who may pose a risk of harm to themselves or others.

Schools can work to prepare for potential acts of targeted violence by improving their campuses’ physical security and involving school personnel who are trained to prevent, recognize, and respond to threats of violence, as well as implementing other violence prevention strategies. Physical security measures can mitigate threats and reduce the amount of harm inflicted if incidents occur. Conducting a site assessment and developing building security plans can identify existing vulnerabilities and enhance overall school security.

Some school districts may decide to use school-based law enforcement, including school resource officers (SROs) and other security personnel, to help prevent or mitigate school violence. Implementing an SRO program is a local decision that should be made with significant community input, and school districts should consider the range of options available that best fit their needs. SROs have a unique role in school safety, with a primary focus on prevention and proactive engagement in their community of students and school staff.

Local communities should consider funding, training, and proper staffing as part of the SRO program evaluation. Schools with SRO programs are encouraged to implement high-quality practices in the training and use of SROs in schools. Ensuring SROs carry out their responsibilities in a fair and impartial manner helps students feel safe at school.

Use the filter below to sort resources available based upon stages of preparedness and subtopic.

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All Targeted Violence Resources

The federal government identified additional resources that highlight strategies for school safety. Use these resources to learn more about targeted violence.

Targeted Violence
School Resource Officers: Averted School Violence Special Report

Department of Justice, 2020

This report examines 12 case studies of incidents in which planned violence targeting K-12 schools was averted by the potential attackers' peers, school administrators, and other school safety stakeholders including school resource officers.

Training Program
Targeted Violence
School Security Officer Initial Certification Training

This two day class offered by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) includes a presentation of the five DCJS school security officer modules followed by the required DCJS testing. This training is intended for school security officers, currently employed by a Virginia Public School Division or by a private school within the Commonwealth, who are in need of initial certification.

Training Program
Targeted Violence
School Resource Officer and School Administrator Basic Course

This four and a half day course offered by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services focuses on working with youth, school safety, school law, and in particular, the functions of school resource officers and school administrators in a PreK-12 school environment. This course is required for all law enforcement officers assigned as SROs to a Virginia public school.

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