Mass shootings highlight a desperate need for formal threat assessment programs to help predict – and thereby prevent- targeted school violence. Remember, Threat Assessment is proactive approach to assessing, evaluating and intervening in potentially violent situation.
The goal of a threat assessment is to determine if someone poses a threat – not if they made one.
Ultimately we want to know if the subject is dangerous. In his book “The Gift of Fear”, Gavin de Becker outlines a simple and powerful way to efficiently assess the dangerousness of a threat related situation. The approach is called JACA and every school leader should consider this approach when enacting a suspension/expulsion.
JACA (Justification, Alternatives, Consequences, Ability) is an acronym for elements that exist when there is a serious risk of violent behavior. Use JACA by applying the following questions:
Does the student feel justified in taking violent action?
Does the students feel there are alternatives to violence?
Is the student concerned about the consequences of a violent action?
Does student have the ability to carry out an attack?
0 JACA elements present: No threat
1 JACA elements present: Mild threat
2 JACA elements present: Moderate threat
3 JACA elements present: Sever threat
4 JACA elements present: Profound threat
JACA does not replace the need for a formal and comprehensive threat assessment program that includes awareness training, a formal reporting process, a trained – multidisciplinary threat assessment team and a case management program.
JACA can most definitely help leaders identify potentially violent behavior before it is too late…