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FBI report to detail 'warning signs' that could lead to school shootings

 

In this story:

Not a profile of potential shooters

Threat-assessment teams recommended

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI is set to release a report Wednesday aimed at preventing any repeats of the school shootings that have rocked the United States in recent years.

When guns blazed in Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Littleton, Colorado; and Springfield, Oregon, shell-shocked Americans asked how it could happen that students would pick up weapons to harm other youngsters.

  MESSAGE BOARD
 

In response, FBI behavioral scientists, educators and mental health experts have developed a new threat-assessment guide.

"We hope it will give school officials and law enforcement as well as parents some idea or some of the characteristics of some of these children involved in a number of these incidents across the country," said Sheriff Patrick Sullivan, who was among those responding to the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton on April 20, 1999.

Not a profile of potential shooters

The guide is not meant to be a profile of potential school shooters, but it could provide warning signs for local police and school officials to check for if any threat -- direct or indirect -- is made.

Among the warning signs are:

  •  Signs of depression

  • A pathological need for attention

  • Racial intolerance

  • An unusual interest in acts of sensational violence and a fascination with violence-filled entertainment

But some experts on juvenile violence warn that officials have to be careful not to unfairly label students. They also note that many students who do not engage in violence often exhibit the same behavior the FBI has listed.

Still, the FBI says all threats should be taken seriously.

Threat-assessment teams recommended

The plan encourages school officials to be proactive, to encourage student reporting of potential problems or threats and to develop a threat-assessment coordinator and team.

While some experts say the FBI is overreacting, others say stopping school violence may require even earlier intervention.

"Some of the most effective intervention programs work with kids on social skills development and teach them how to get along with others and just interact with others," said Sanford Newman, the president of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

The irony is that school shootings have actually been on the decline. The U.S. Education Department says the chance of a student being shot at school is less than one in a million.



RELATED STORIES:
Graduation at 1 Washington, D.C., high school means tearful goodbyes for slain classmates
June 13, 2000
19-year-old linked to Michigan school shooting charged with manslaughter
March 2, 2000
Authorities say 19-year-old may be charged in relation to Michigan school shooting
March 1, 2000
Police: Boy, 13, doesn't know why he shot classmates
December 6, 1999
13-year-old girl dies after New Mexico school shooting
November 20, 1999
Police compiling final Columbine report say 2 gunmen acted alone
September 10, 1999
Study: School violence down, but still too high
August 4, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Education
CDC: Facts About Violence Among Youth and Violence in Schools
National Center for Education Statistics
  • Statistical analysis report: Violence and Discipline Problems in U.S. Public Schools, 1996-97
National Alliance for Safe Schools
Gun-free Schools Act of 1994

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