There is no debate that identifying threats before they happen is key to making our schools safer. This task is not simple. Students today have a complex life and display many emotions. This list of characteristics is a great place for SROs to start learning how to identify troubled students.
- History of tantrums and uncontrollable angry outbursts
- Often resorts to name calling, cursing or abusive language
- Habitually makes violent threats when angry
- Has previously taken a weapon to school
- Has a background of serious disciplinary problems
- Is on the fringe of his/her peer group with few or no close friends
- Is preoccupied with weapons, explosives, or other incendiary devices
- Has previously been truant, suspended or expelled from school
- Displays cruelty to animals
- Has little or no supervision and support from parents or a caring adult
- Has witnessed or been a victim of abuse or neglect in the home
- Has been bullied and/or bullies or intimidates peers or younger children
- Tends to blame others for difficulties and problems he or she causes
- Prefers print and digital media that expresses violent themes and acts
- Reflects anger, frustration and the dark side of life in school essays or writing projects
- Is involved with a gang or an antisocial group on the fringe of peer acceptance
- Is often depressed and/or has significant mood swings
- Has threatened or attempted suicide
Several states have recognized the critical importance of increasing SRO presence and training as a proven way to reduce the chance of school violence. NASRO recommends that each school have at least one specially trained SRO, however, many schools continue to lack even one.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a School Safety Action Plan in 2018. The plan observes that the best way to reduce the impact of school violence is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The plan’s recommendations include:
- Collaboration between school officials and local law enforcement to heighten police presence on school campuses.
- Prioritized hiring of retired peace officers for school security, specifically, police officers, sheriff deputies, constables, and military veterans.
- Supporting an effective school marshal program by increasing the number of participants, providing extensive firearms training for participants, and increase funding towards establishing and running school marshal programs.