The Potential Risks Facing Education Customers from Threat Situations

A 15-year-old boy was arrested Sunday in Cincinnati after making multiple bomb threats against area schools. Earlier this month, a Houston-area school district investigated threats made by students on social media about the possibility of a weapon being brought to an intermediate school.  And the Milwaukee County sheriff released a statement on March 11 urging a 16-year-old who made bomb threats be tried as adult, in response to recent threats made at two local high schools.

While most of the safety issues United Heartland discusses with our customers tend to revolve around slips, trips or falls, for our education clients, we know they face potential risks from school threats and active shooter situations. Though it can’t be confirmed for certain whether bomb and shooting threats are on the rise (law enforcement agencies do not tally school threat numbers), Kenneth Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services, told Mother Jones  in February that his study of such threats reported in the media during the first half of the 2014-2015 school year found a 158% increase. Of the 812 threats he assessed, more than a third were sent by email or via social media platforms.

The overwhelming majority of threats tend to be transient or impulsive, made out of a moment of anger or fear, but with no true intent behind them. However, substantial threats of violence, while rare, can lead to schools shutting down for the day until the threat can be fully investigated. Despite these instances, Scott Poland, a school crisis expert at Nova Southeastern University, said that schools remain the safest places that employees and students can be.

In the same Mother Jones article, Poland said school threat assessment teams, which can thoroughly evaluate and determine protocols for potential threats, are “sorely lacking across the country,” but that training and better crisis communication plans could help improve the handling of situations and reduce unneeded school closings and improve safety.

“Tools for Schools,” a safety and health resource for K-12 public and private school district employees is available exclusively to our United Heartland customers and offers guidance on a wide variety of issues and safety risks that employees and administrators in school districts face. Please contact your United Heartland Loss Control representative for more information about this and other education resources.

To learn more about United Heartland, call 1-800-258-2667. Or to find a United Heartland agent near you, click here.