Boulder Valley School District gave violence prevention presentation at Centaurus High School | #schoolsaftey

Boulder Valley School District Education Center in Boulder, Colorado. (courtesy of Boulder Valley School District)

The Boulder Valley School District partnered with the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence to give a presentation about reporting in school shooting situations.

The presentation took place Wednesday at Centaurus High School in Lafayette, where parents were invited to take part in de-escalation discussions.

The University of Colorado Boulder paired with CSPV and BVSD to educate parents on safety tools they can use and were advised in workshops about gun violence in schools. Dr. Sarah Goodrum, research professor for CSPV, began the presentation by citing gun violence statistics that left some community members both shocked and disturbed.

“As you’ve probably observed watching the news in the United States, the rate and frequency of firearm violence is on the rise,” said Goodrum. “When we look at firearm-related deaths from 2018 to 2021 we know that those deaths have increased by approximately 1,000 firearm deaths per year.”

Goodrum added that the rate of mass shootings has also increased, more than doubling within that same period.

Shortly after the attack at Columbine High School, the Department of Education and the U.S. Secret Service came together to do a study of 37 school shootings that occurred in the United States between 1974 and 2000. This study is commonly referred to as the ‘Safe School Initiative.

“What we learned from (the study) is that these situations don’t happen out of the blue,” Goodrum said. “They are actually happening after a series of warning signs, concerning behaviors, outbursts, and even threatening communications.”

Multiple characteristics of budding violent behavior were mentioned in the presentation, but Goodrum focused in on three, depicting them as being the most worrisome — intense and escalating anger, unusual fascination in weapons, and threats or intent to cause harm.

Following Goodrum, Carissa Jaquish, manager of safety, security and emergency preparedness for BVSD, established an action plan for the school.

“We are going to start with emergency management and developing comprehensive plans so that we can mitigate, prevent and respond appropriately to crisis situations,” Jaquish said.

Jaquish encouraged parents to discuss amongst themselves how to best handle reporting violent classmates. One parent who was attending mentioned that they encouraged their child to use an anonymous reporting service called Safe2Tell. Jaquish expanded on how the service works:

“In Safe2Tell if you submit and don’t engage back, [law enforcement] does ask follow up questions, but you can decide your level of involvement,” Jaquish said.

Goodrum also recommended Safe2Tell, saying the main reason people don’t report violent situations is the fear of overreacting or appearing overly concerned to their peers. She acknowledged that by giving students a way to report anonymously, that fear drastically decreased.

Goodrum ended the presentation by establishing a call to action for Centaurus High School’s parents and students to educate themselves:

“What’s challenging about this evidence is that people often times didn’t recognize these warning signs as indicators of a pathway toward violent action … if we can be more aware what these warning signs look like, we can do more to try to intervene.”

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