From carving pumpkins to haunted houses and finding the coveted full-size candy bar during trick-or-treating, the festivities around Halloween are about making memories, but here at SEC, we also want you to be safe.

On average, children are twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. But Halloween can be enjoyed safely for all parties involved if you pay attention and plan ahead.

  • Costumes
    • With the sun setting earlier and earlier this fall, it’s time to get creative with some Halloween costumes that will stand out in the dark. Bright colors and adding reflective tape can help you spot your child outdoors.
    • If your kids are not fully vaccinated and participating in an indoor event, encourage them to make masks a part of their costume (like a superhero)! But be aware that eye masks can obstruct a child’s vision while walking.
    • Costume sizing matters! Make sure you have a correct fit to prevent trips and falls.
  • Trick-or-Treating
    • While out and about in the neighborhood, tell your children not to accept nor eat anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
    • Always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds and make sure to only go to homes with a porch light on. If older children are going alone, make sure you have a plan for an acceptable route and return time.
    • When handing out candy, make sure you have a cleared walkway, working outdoor lights, and restrain pets that might be inside.
    • Be aware of cars and always use sidewalks, paths, and crosswalks.

We hope you have a faBOOlous and safe Halloween!

In recent weeks, two very serious and disturbing plots to commit a mass shooting at school were disrupted. Two middle schoolers in Lee County, Florida were arrested for conspiracy to commit a mass shooting. Four high school students were arrested for conspiring to commit a mass casualty attack which was scheduled to occur on the 25th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. Although incredibly troubling, thankfully these plots were identified, and law enforcement agencies were able to prevent them from being put into action.

Physical and technical security features, emergency policies and procedures, and safety and security training are all critical elements needed to create safe and secure environment for your school. At SEC, we believe, though, one of the best ways schools can help prevent a targeted act of violence from occurring is to have in place a well-trained and well-structured threat assessment team. Having the ability to identify, assess, intervene, manage, and monitor the threats to your school is essential.

Since the late 1990’s, the Secret Service’s Nation Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) has been researching targeted acts of violence in schools. One of the significant findings coming from this research is that the large majority of the individuals who committed or attempted to commit these attacks did not just “snap.”  More commonly, they walked a path from having the idea to committing the act that took days, weeks, or even years to complete. While on this path, most exhibited identifiable behaviors of concern that were observable to at least one person. In many cases, they were observable to multiple people. If behaviors of concern can be identified and assessed, and if intervention strategies can be put in place, it can greatly reduce the likelihood of future students reaching the end of their path.  That is what an effective threat assessment team can do.

In 2018, NTAC published Enhancing school safety using a threat assessment model. An operational guide for preventing targeted school violence. This comprehensive resource provides detailed guidance on strategies schools can follow to create and sustain teams that will allow them to be able to assess threats related to their students, staff, and facility. The guide is broken up into the following eight steps:

  1. Establish a multidisciplinary threat assessment team
  2. Define prohibited and concerning behaviors
  3. Create a central reporting mechanism
  4. Determine the threshold for law enforcement intervention
  5. Establish assessment procedures
  6. Develop risk management options
  7. Create and promote safe school climates
  8. Conduct training for all stakeholders

If you are an administrator who is interested in creating or updating your threat assessment procedures, I encourage you to review this guide and visit the United States Secret Service website at www.secretservice.gov to access additional reports and guides NTAC has produced relating to targeted violence in schools. Additionally, if we, at SEC, can be of any assistance related to your school safety and security needs, please feel free to contact us at www.secureed.com.