Before every school shooting, the perpetrator revealed alarming behaviour that, if reported, might have prevented the tragedy.
Flagging this behaviour before it escalates is the goal of a new “protocol” to be signed Monday by three Central Alberta school divisions, police and social agencies.
Kevin Cameron, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, will also attend the signing in Innisfail, along with officials from Chinook’s Edge, Red Deer Catholic and Red Deer Public School divisions.
Cameron has studied school shootings, since Columbine, as well as the Taber shooting in Alberta. The expert in school-related violence has been guiding Central Alberta schools.
“What they found after Columbine is that we want to share information (about threatening statements or actions) and start talking about it,” said Wanda Christensen, a retiring association superintendent for Chinook’s Edge School Division who helped facilitate the partnerships.
Being proactive increases the chance of mitigating a possible tragedy, she added – especially if teachers, counsellors and administrators at neighbouring school divisions discuss what they know with each other, police and relevant agencies.
You never know who might have heard something, since knowledge travels fast and far by social media, Christensen noted.
Although school violence has occasionally been perpetrated by adult outsiders, she said it’s usually carried out by “distressed” students who are attending, or have left a school.
The Community Violence Threat Risk Assessment protocol will also be endorsed by other community partners: the RCMP, Olds College, the Town of Olds, and Mountain View County.
Also part of the agreement are: Alberta Children’s Services, Alberta Health Services, Child/Youth and Family Addictions and Mental Health, Central Alberta Community Corrections, and the Chinook Arch Victim Services.
Christensen said they will all be the eyes and ears of the community. Once threatening behaviour is spotted, it will be jointly assessed and appropriate interventions taken. If it’s a mental health issue, the person will be given the help he, or she, needs, she added.
Similar protocols are being signed by school divisions and other partners across the country. For more information, please visit www.cctatr.com.