By Dr. Harry Tennant


by Harry Tennant
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Friday, August 31, 2018

Who assembles the clues?

Michael wrote a Halloween story for English class in which the main character killed other students at the school in gruesome ways. No doubt the English teacher was concerned. With the hundreds or thousands of students' writing assignments that the English teacher had seen over the years, this one wasn't unique, but it was concerning. But it was Halloween. It wouldn't be an emergency. It isn't evidence that Michael was planning a violent attack. In other words, this story didn't indicate that Michael posed a threat. But the English teacher would keep it in mind.

Now imagine that Michael's history teacher got a paper on the history of terror attacks. And Michael's chemistry teacher got a research report on explosives. And Michael's art teacher got a drawing depicting violence. They might each be concerned but, like the English teacher, what they were seeing from Michael was not that unusual in the context of all the students that each had worked with.

But now imagine that all of those teachers happened to be together chatting before a faculty meeting and the English teacher happened to mention the story that was bothering her. Then the history teacher chimed in, then the chemistry teacher, then the art teacher. And then the gym teacher added that Michael has seemed unsually withdrawn recently. A larger and more worrisome picture starts to emerge. It still isn't proof that Michael poses a threat but it would warrent some investigation, more questions to be asked and a warning to be on the lookout for other related incidents. Multiple sources do indicate that Michael is doing a lot of thinking about violence. But serendipitous meetings like this are not only unlikely but particularly unlikely to occur  reliably in a timely fashion.

One defense against school violence that is missing in most schools is a way for teachers to register concerns about a student so that different concerns from different sources can be aggregated. The collection may reinforce or refute the question of whether Michael poses a threat to safety.

Edclick's School Safety Manager is a central collection site that goes through the school counselor and administrator so that somebody sees it all and can put the pieces together.

By the way, a student named Michael did write a Halloween story like that for English class. Just after Thanksgiving, he shot and killed three students and injured five more. People said, no one saw it coming.


Edclick's School Safety Manager helps identify kids in distress and provide support.

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Keywords: School Safety Manager, prevention, school violence

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