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…

Stay safe,

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