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'We must be looking at those early warning signs': Training held on trying to prevent school violence

Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 17, 2024

Training was held Wednesday to help try to prevent school shootings and violence.

  • Training for stakeholders including school officials and law enforcement was held Wednesday at Fox Valley Technical College's Public Safety Training Center.
  • Director of the Office of School Safety Trish Kilpin spoke during the training.
  • Saturday marks 25 years since the shooting at Columbine High School.

    (The following is a transcript of the broadcast story)
    We're approaching 25 years since the Columbine school shooting.

    As work continues to try to prevent violence at school, a training was held [Wednesday]; part of it was talking about identifying who could be a threat, before it's too late.

    It's training meant to help keep schools safe held at Fox Valley Tech's Public Safety Training Center.

    And the state director of the Office of School Safety, Trish Kilpin, says part of that is understanding who could pose a threat.

    "Most school shooters do not make a direct threat that they're going to engage in a school shooting. So, instead, we must be looking at those early warning signs. When somebody poses a threat, when they're researching and planning, when they're looking up previous acts of school violence," [said Kilpin].

    Kilpin says you have to look at the whole situation, but here are more of those signs:

    "Preoccupation with a certain cause, preoccupation or identification as a pseudo-warrior who wants to bring light to a specific cause, a lot of hate speech, a we-them mentality, a peaked interest in weapons."

    And evaluating whether someone truly poses a threat can start young.

    Mike Alketruse is the mental health coordinator at Neenah School District

    "Most of our threat assessments are with third and fourth graders, which pretty much fits the national trends. That means we're doing early intervention when kids are losing their minds and getting emotionally disregulated," [Alketruse said].

    "My own theory is that they just haven't learned to regulate their emotions yet, so they're saying things that they may mean at the time, but they don't have the access to weapons and things like that," [Alketruse said].

    Attorney General Josh Kaul says making schools safer long-term requires responses to immediate threats, and those earlier warning signs.

    "If you're able to intervene when somebody's beginning going down that pathway, early on, when they're in 4th grade for example, you can hopefully prevent kids from going down that path in the long term."

    And the state Department of Justice says anyone with school safety concerns can report them 24-7 to what's called Speak Up, Speak Out.

    The phone number is 1-800-MY-SUSO-1