WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE AWARE OF A THREAT OF VIOLENCE

 
If you are convinced that violent behavior is about to occur, there are a number of things that you can do as a counselor. Before all else, remain as calm as possible. You will be looked to for information and instruction by administrators, parents, the community and other youth in the event that a potentially violent act is initiated. By preparing yourself now for this kind of event, you are taking steps toward being calm in what can be an extremely stressful situation. Remember to do the following things:
  • Immediately tell someone and alert your administration to activate your school’s Emergency Management Plan. This may involve contacting the police, the school psychologist, local mental health agencies and the parents/guardian of the youth. If the threat is physical and appears imminent, keep your distance and try to create barriers between the person making the threat and others. Avoid aggressive language or body movements.
  • Ask open-ended questions to keep the youth talking. Distraction will buy you time in a threatening situation.
  • Accept that you are not in control of the situation and do not try to assert your nonexistent authority.
  • Do not dismiss the threat.
  • Immediately talk with the youth making the threat or being threatened, is at all possible.
  • Arrange for an immediate evaluation by a qualified mental health professional.
  • Do not leave the youth alone.
  • Contact the school administration, the school psychologist or another counselor, parents or guardians, local mental health agency, and, if warrented, the police