Bush Library hosts school violence prevention workshop

Published: Sep. 7, 2018 at 5:18 PM CDT
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A former Secret Service Agent briefed educators, administrators and law enforcement about how to keep school campuses safe Friday.

A free seminar at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum helped school leaders look at ways to watch for warning signs and try to prevent acts of violence. A number of high profile school shootings have educators talking about safety.

"Most of these events have occurred using legally obtained weapons most likely from the parents," said Cynthia Marble, SIGMA Threat Management Senior Consultant. Before becoming a consultant, she served as a Secret Service Agent for 26 years.

"These people don’t just snap. It’s not a crime of passion thing where somebody wakes up in the morning and they’re very upset and they’re going to go to school or the workplace and they’re going to do something. These are planned," she said.

"It's heartbreaking to me because we don't want to think of any of our kids wanting to do harm to other kids," said Blake Allen, an assistant principal at Bryan High School. Allen's campus has more than 2,500 students.

"The reality is these days that you’ve got to be on the lookout for that and in order to save lives we have to be looking critically at what some of the kids are doing in order to be able to intervene and stop it from happening," he added.

"When I train teachers, I talk about the bad guys not going to look like Darth Vader. He's going to look like everybody else, so we've got to get our minds out of the stereotypes and into really looking at what the kids are evaluating," Allen said.

"There are things that these perpetrators do that we may be able to find out about ahead of time. If we can find out, if we know where to look, we can possibly prevent these from happening," said Marble.

"I think the biggest takeaway is just really a reaffirmation that prevention is key in any sort of situation that might involve safety," said Molley Perry, College Station ISD Chief Administrative Officer.

"Anything that we can do to better form relationships with our students will ultimately serve in the best interest of our whole community," she said.

Threat assessment experts say after a school shooting begins, most of them are over within four minutes. Another common connection from experts is shooter's typically have been going through a significant loss, including things like being cut from a sports team, a family divorce to having a terminally ill parent.

Marble says, in these cases, students have trouble coping with their situation and encourage adults to keep open communication so that young people will be feel comfortable confiding in them.

Some of the other groups that attended Friday included representatives from Texas A&M University, Blinn College, Allen Academy, Brenham ISD, the Houston ISD Police Department and The Woodlands Methodist School.