Wisconsin DOJ Threat Assessment Training for School Personnel
WAUSAU, Wis. – Emily Perry was among the educators taking threat assessment training at Wausau West High School on Thursday.
She is the Mental Health Coordinator for the Onalaska School District. Perry said the intent of the training was to prevent school violence before it happens.
“Most of the time there are warning signs, things to look for,” she said. “Just being more aware, more present and more aware is going to help us be more preventative than reactive to situations.”
The training is provided by the Office of School Safety of the Wisconsin Department of Justice at the request of school districts in the state.
Perry said it was about getting help for students in need.
“It’s not just about identifying the threat, but also about escalating it to provide support to the child and the family,” she said.
Trish Kilpin, who heads the department’s Office of School Safety, said part of the training gives staff and others the confidence to get involved if anything goes out of the ordinary.
“One of the ways we know it’s effective in preventing violence is to have a community-based approach,” she said. “If parents, students and bystanders, or people who become aware that a child may behave in a way that suggests they might engage in violence, we need to know about it and they need to trust us. so that we can assess the information and develop an appropriate plan.”
School safety goes beyond things like locked doors and emergency plans; it also includes communication and outreach, said Caleb Bushman, director of student services for the Wausau School District.
“Our support staff, our teachers, the other students, they are on the front line. They see things day to day,” he said. “Do they trust? Do they have the knowledge to connect with someone who can help and support them? Take them to a school counselor, take them to a social worker, take them to someone who can investigate further to make sure we intervene before there is a disaster.
Perry said it ultimately comes down to providing student aid.
“We don’t want to look back and say, ‘We’re too late,” she said. “It’s always about being preventative and building their community.”