A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Equipping educators to understand mass violence and extremism


Equipping educators to understand mass violence and extremism

May 2, 2016Jessica Rivinius

To better equip edu­ca­tors and school administrators to under­stand and appro­pri­ately respond to observ­able warn­ing signs of potential mass violence and/or violent extremism in their schools, START and the Anti-Defamation League recently published a new backgrounder that explores the parallels between mass violence and extremism and offers a strategy to decrease the risk of those incidents.

Based on empirical studies suggesting parallels between mass shooters in schools and lone-actor terrorists, the backgrounder offers schools a three-pronged strategy for risk reduction:

  1. Identifying observable warning signs;
  2. Developing school programs that encourage respect and inclusion; and
  3. Implementing curriculum resources that teach students to be safe and conscientious consumers of online material.

“While there is no one pathway into violence, certain observable behaviors have emerged in the research,” said Alejandro Beutel, a START researcher who contributed to the backgrounder. “While some students who exhibit these common warning signs may not be planning anything violent, they may still benefit from assistance. It’s better to see these kinds of signs as a type of ‘cry for help’ rather than doing nothing.”

To read the report, visit the Anti-Defamation League’s website here.