School Climate & Safety

After Parkland Shooting, District Teams With Sandy Hook Promise to Spot Warning Signs of Violence

By Evie Blad — July 24, 2018 2 min read
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As it works to heal from a school shooting, the Broward County, Fla., district plans to partner with an organization founded by parents whose children were killed in a 2012 school attack in Newtown, Conn., to help prevent future violence.

Sandy Hook Promise will bring two programs to Broward County, where 17 people died and 17 more were injured in a Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Superintendent Robert Runcie said on Twitter Tuesday.

The first program, Say Something, teaches students and teachers to recognize and respond to warning signs that a student may harm themself or others. The other program, Start With Hello , aims to banish social isolation by teaching students to reach out to peers and encouraging a “culture of inclusion” within schools.

The organization worked with experts on violence and school climate to develop the programs in the wake of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook. Parents of some of the 26 victims there were surprised to learn that, contrary to popular narratives, school shooters rarely “just snap.” Rather, an analysis by the U.S. Secret Service has found that mass shooters often “leak” their intentions beforehand, often telling one or more people of their plans to act.

Education Week’s Lisa Stark reported this piece about the Sandy Hook Promise programs last year, on the fifth anniversary of the Newtown shootings.

Schools Look for Warning Signs of Violence

Broward County’s adoption of the programs comes as schools around the country include efforts to improve students’ ability to “see something, say something” in the wake of the shootings in Parkland and Santa Fe, Texas, earlier this year. The federal STOP School Violence Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump as part of a spending bill, includes funding for such training.

Schools are also grappling with how to handle such reports when they are made. In Broward County, for example, people did “see something and say something,” but some of the victims’ families have said officials weren’t quick enough to act.

Law enforcement officials and state investigators have said the Parkland shooter displayed many warning signs, even openly talking about becoming a school shooter. The FBI drew anger from the community after it revealed in the days after the shooting that it failed to investigate tips warning that the gunman intended to act. And a state task force assembled to investigate the attack is reviewing records, including school discipline records and dozens of police calls to the gunman’s home in the years before the attack.

Photo: A Broward County sheriff’s deputy stands watch at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., as students returned to class after a February school shooting. --Terry Renna/AP

Related reading about school shootings, violence prevention:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.