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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.

Bullying and Cyberbullying
The Science of School Safety

Department of Justice, 2022

This podcast episode discusses bullying, school climate, mental health, and other important school safety issues. The episode also covers the National Institute of Justice's research portfolio on school safety.
Targeted Violence
Averted School Violence Database: 2021 Analysis Update

Department of Justice, 2021

This downloadable report leverages data from additional averted school violence cases since the 2019 Averted School Violence Database report to conduct similar analyses; compares the findings from the new cases to the initial 51 averted cases; and provides overarching lessons learned and recommendations that can be leveraged by school administrators, law enforcement, and communities to enhance school safety and security.
Targeted Violence
Violence Prevention: School-Based Approaches to Conduct Problems

Department of Education, 2011

This webinar provides detailed guidance for the management and design of an education system’s violence prevention strategy. It features specific, practical strategies for implementing and sustaining school violence prevention efforts and includes information on the impact of positive school climate and relational strength on student violence.

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