Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response executive director Kevin Cameron led a workshop on learning to assess potential risks Friday at the Airlane Hotel.
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Many youth give cries of help before doing something tragic.
Since the Columbine High School mass shooting tragedy in Colorado in 1999, threat assessment experts like Kevin Cameron, the executive director for the Canadian Centre for Threat assessment and Trauma Response, have identified that most people who are about to harm others or themselves show signs of potential violent behaviour.
And today, most of those signs are online.
"Now we can see if people are bubbling and brewing internally because of their Internet activity," he said Friday at the Airlane Hotel, where he led a workshop for Lakehead Public Schools board officials, police, social workers and other community members called Level 1 Violence Threat Risk Assessment.
The workshop will prepare teams to be able to assess threats and potential risks to prevent violence in schools and throughout the community.
Through multiple sessions, participants will be able to identify serious threats made by individuals towards others or pick up on concerning statements possibly embedded in assignments handed into teachers, said Cameron.
"We've had a little bit of bias just believing most people wouldn't (follow through) so we don't take most threats seriously," he said. "This training is a way of getting professionals to actually open their eyes and be more aware, more prepared to act."
Cameron's experience responding to violent trauma includes the 1999 Taber, Alta. high school shooting and his threat assessment protocol used to just refer to students. It has since expanded to include the whole community since sometimes police, social workers and counsellors have information about individuals that schools may not.
The training sessions will eventually lead to a formal, signed agreement between community agencies.
"It will open up communications between all agencies so anybody who has a significant concern can activate the protocol and access what others know related to a particular students or subject, client, etc," said Cameron.
There is also hope for parents to eventually become involved as many cases involving youth evolving towards serious violence, the most blatant pre-incident indicators are found in their bedrooms.
Called the Bedroom Dynamic, Cameron said items like weapons, hit lists and floor plans are often found.
"Most of the parents of those perpetrators didn't go anywhere near their sons or daughters bedrooms for weeks, months or a year or more before the tragedy occurred," he said, noting parents can become disengaged or fearful of their children.
Safety of students and staff is a priority for Lakehead Public Schools and superintendent of education Colleen Kappel said they brought in Cameron to help them look at ways to improve their processes.
"I think we're dealing with a lot of different situations and I think we need processes in place that help us really dig a little deeper to identify is this a low risk, is this a moderate risk, is this a high risk so we can put interventions in place or prevention strategies to deal with every situation," she said.
The threats are just about students bringing weapons to school but include bullying and other community concerns, Kappel said.
"The problems are not just school problems; they're community problems as well so I think it's important to really work with our community partners to identify what the concerns are," she said.
"We can't do this alone. It involves the whole community."
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