Jan. 06, 2020

HARRISBURG—Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) will host a presentation by the U.S. Secret Service for local educators, law enforcement, and EMS to update community officials on the newest Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) report on targeted school violence in the United States. This will be the region’s first presentation of NTAC’s new study “Protecting America’s Schools: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence.”

The study identifies 41 incidents of attacks against K-12 schools in the United States from 2008-17. Researchers with the Secret Service NTAC have examined the background and behaviors of the attackers and identified a series of key findings and significant commonalities. The presentation will focus on how to proactively prevent school violence, by identifying students in distress and providing appropriate interventions.

“This is critical information that will help our local governments and school boards better understand the realities we face when confronting violence so we can better craft responses,” Thomas said. “I’m so happy to host this to make our schools safer.”

The event will take place Thursday, Jan. 9, at Council Rock High School South in Holland. While the session is closed to the public, there will be a media availability at 8 a.m. at the school and reporters will be allowed to hear the opening remarks.

The report identifies 10 key findings among the 41 incidents:

• There is no profile of a student attacker, nor is there a profile for the type of school that has been targeted.
• Attackers usually had multiple motives, the most common involving a grievance with classmates.
• Most attackers used firearms, and firearms were most often acquired from the home.
• Most attackers had experienced psychological, behavioral or developmental symptoms.
• Half of the attackers had interests in violent topics, like the Columbine shooting or Hitler.
• All attackers experienced social stressors involving their relationships with peers and/or romantic partners.
• Nearly every attacker experienced negative home life factors.
• Most attackers were victims of bullying, which was often observed by others.
• Most attackers had a history of school disciplinary actions, and many had prior contact with law enforcement.
• All attackers exhibited concerning behaviors. Most elicited concern from others, and most communicated their intent to attack.

In July 2018, the Secret Service published Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model: An Operational Guide for Preventing Targeted School Violence and defined a model for the creation of school threat assessment programs. The approach outlined in the guide is intended to prevent school violence before it occurs.

Since the 1990s, the Secret Service NTAC has been conducting research, training, consultation and information sharing on threat assessment and the prevention of targeted violence. NTAC has studied attacks directed at government agencies and officials; workplaces; and schools, colleges, and universities. This systematic approach identifies individuals who may be exhibiting threatening or concerning behavior and assessing the risk posed by the individual. The continuous academic and research-based approach to studying indicators of violence supports the Secret Service’s protective mission and our nation’s effort to better protect our communities.

Representative Wendi Thomas
178th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster
RepThomas.com / Facebook.com/RepThomas