Train college students to acknowledge indicators of potential violence

Sudden behavioral changes. loneliness and isolation. Quick to anger. If your students saw this behavior in their friends or classmates, would they recognize it as a warning sign of potential violence? I suspect most wouldn’t, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that as educators, we need to teach them explicitly. Because empowering our students to recognize warning signs and “say something” is a big step toward making our school communities safer.

What are the warning signs of potential violence?

The following warning signs are taught in the Sandy Hook Promise Say Something program. This list is not exhaustive, and the appearance of any of these signs does not necessarily mean there is an imminent threat. However, sharing these warning signs with your students can help them identify when their classmates may be in danger or need help.

1. Sudden withdrawal from friends, family and activities (including online/via social media).

2. Bullying, especially when it targets differences in race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

3. Excessive irritability, lack of patience, or getting angry easily.

4. Experiencing chronic loneliness or social isolation.

5. Expressing persistent thoughts of harming yourself or someone else.

6. Making direct threats against a place, another person, or yourself.

7. Bragging about having access to firearms or weapons.

8. Recruitment of accomplices or spectators to an attack.

9. Expressing a threat directly as a plan.

10. Cruelty to Animals.

Can your students spot the warning signs of potential violence?

Gun violence is preventable if you “know the signs”. Check out this award-winning Public Service Announcement (PSA) “Evan,” which follows a student beginning a new relationship. did you see the signs

What should students do when they see warning signs?

It’s one thing to know the warning signs and another thing to know what to do about them. First, students must take warning signs seriously and act immediately. Students who observe disturbing behavior should report it to a trusted adult or use an anonymous reporting system. If the threat is imminent, they should call 911.

How do I teach the warning signs and what to do?

More than 18 million people have participated in Know the Signs programs in schools and community organizations nationwide. The Evan PSA is one of the most popular curriculum options for identifying the warning signs. Sandy Hook Promise offers a free curriculum guide for middle and high school classrooms to teach.

The Sandy Hook Promise Say Something program offers a variety of resources to help teach K-12 students this content. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Say Something Self-paced Training Video: This is core training for middle and high school students on the warning signs of someone at risk of harming themselves or others, and when and how to speak to a trusted adult.
  • Say Something: Elementary Animated Series: It’s never too early to learn the warning signs, and this age-appropriate workout is designed specifically for the younger age groups (K-5). It includes a slideshow, interactive picture book, videos, lessons and activities designed to build a community of Upstanders.
  • Trusted Adult Triangle: In this activity, students identify a Trusted Adult in three situations: during school, after school, and on weekends or outside of school hours.
  • Warning Sign Scenario Cards: Students read through various scenarios and sort them into scenarios that indicate they should speak to a trusted adult immediately, scenarios that do not contain warning signs, and scenarios they are unsure about. Then they play one of the scenarios in their Trusted Adult deck.

Want these and more free safe school resources? Get started with the Sandy Hook Promise Say Something program.

And remember, Say Something Week is March 13-17. Check out the hashtag #SaySomethingWeek on Instagram and Twitter.

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