(The Need to Know report is based on information pertaining to Threat, Security, Intelligence, and Investigative Professionals (TSIIP). Below is a summary and for more information, please read the attached original report.)
Writer: Jennifer Loy
Editor: Elythir George
Date: October 15, 2023
BLUF/Summary: On August 17, 2023, the Biden-Harris administration launched a public awareness campaign to promote SchoolSafety.gov, which provides resources and evidence-based practices to improve school safety. The campaign is aimed at educating school officials, teachers, parents, and government leaders about the school safety materials available on the website. It was launched for the back-to-school season to ensure schools have tools to create safe and supportive learning environments. The campaign highlights that SchoolSafety.gov is a collaborative effort between the Departments of Homeland Security, Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice. It contains hundreds of resources on issues like bullying, mental health, emergency planning, and violence prevention. The website also has tools to help schools identify federal funding opportunities and implement comprehensive safety programs. The goal is to help schools build capacity and expand successful safety strategies.
Violence/acts of targeted violence in schools (e.g. shootings)
Bullying and cyberbullying
Student mental health issues
Emergency preparedness and response
Creating positive school climates and learning environments
Keeping students and educators safe
The article indicates these are issues that comprehensive school safety plans need to address. The SchoolSafety.gov website contains resources focused on prevention, preparedness, and responding to these kinds of threats and concerns. The goal of the awareness campaign is to promote use of these resources to enhance safety and security in schools.
Threats/Concerns by Sector: Academia, which includes daycares, pre-K through Grade 12, higher education institutions, and libraries
Significance: When examining the probability of various school safety threats, several stand out as being very likely or almost certain risks that schools will face. Given the ongoing problem of bullying and cyberbullying, it is almost certain that many schools will deal with issues of student harassment and intimidation. Additionally, with mental health challenges on the rise amongst youth, it is very likely schools will need to support students facing anxiety, depression, and other issues. The article also implies it is likely schools will need to be prepared for potential emergency scenarios, even if the chance of an active shooter event is very unlikely. However, while targeted acts of violence cannot be ruled out entirely, the probability of these events occurring at any given school is still extremely low. Overall, the data suggests schools should prioritize being ready to address pervasive issues like bullying and student mental health that they will almost certainly encounter, while also preparing for less likely but high severity events like shootings through proper emergency planning. A balanced, comprehensive approach can help schools cover all bases when it comes to safety.
Awareness for Threat, Security, Intelligence, Investigative, and Protection (TSIIP) Professionals:
The range of resources available on SchoolSafety.gov that can inform threat assessments, security planning, investigations, and protective measures in school environments. Familiarity with these evidence-based practices can enhance their work.
The importance of cross-agency collaboration and information sharing between law enforcement, school officials, mental health professionals, and others to get a full picture of potential threats.
How their roles intersect with fostering positive school climates, bullying prevention, and student mental health promotion. These issues are intricately tied to safety and security.
The value of comprehensive all-hazards planning that addresses both high probability/low impact events like bullying as well as low probability/high impact events like active shooters.
The federal grant programs and funding opportunities available to support school safety initiatives. Knowledge of these can help agencies access resources.
The importance of building trusted relationships with school communities and effectively communicating about threats and preparedness. This facilitates cooperation and reporting of concerns.
How localized trends or incidents may reflect broader national-level school safety issues, and vice versa. Maintaining situational awareness is key.
Recommendations for Threat, Security, Intelligence, Investigative, and Protection (TSIIP) Professionals:
Review the resources on SchoolSafety.gov and incorporate applicable best practices into organizational policies, training, and community outreach efforts.
Partner with school districts to conduct thorough threat and vulnerability assessments informing tailored prevention and preparedness plans.
Advocate for integrating school safety priorities into broader community safety planning by local government.
Ensure personnel receive training on topics like youth mental health, bullying dynamics, and fostering positive school climates.
Establish robust information sharing protocols with school officials, mental health providers, and other youth-serving agencies.
Assist schools in conducting tabletop exercises and drills focused on high-risk scenarios like active shooters.
Help school districts develop comprehensive incident management and emergency communications plans.
Identify and help schools apply for relevant federal grants for security technology, equipment, training, etc.
Develop relationships with students and parents through SRO programs, advisories, and community meetings.
Monitor school crime, violence, and misconduct data for emerging problems and trends.
Promote a culture of vigilance and reporting of suspicious activity among the school community.
The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) has created an educational See Something Say Something flier. To view it, click here.
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 Chingshin new classroom 1, by Ajenw, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
 Biden-Harris Administration Launches SchoolSafety.gov Awareness Campaign to Support Schools with Safety Resources, DHS, August 17, 2023, https://www.dhs.gov/news/2023/08/17/biden-harris-administration-launches-schoolsafetygov-awareness-campaign
 “See Something Say Something for Schools and Libraries" by Sebastien Chapel