How to Prevent and Respond to Targeted School Violence

This webinar will discuss how to recognize signs of potential targeted violence and how to implement a protection plan.

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While schools have spent years and considerable effort and resources working to address potential active shooter threats, the sometimes-related issue of targeted violence against students or staff members has often been overlooked. Excluding active shooter threats, a 2021 report found from the 2015-16 school year to the 2017-18 school year, among students ages 12 to 18:

  • Hate crimes and physical attacks with a weapon nearly doubled
  • Threats of attack with a weapon increased by more than 46%
  • The number of hate crimes in schools and the number of schools where at least one hate crime occurred almost doubled
  • Sexual assaults other than rape increased by 17%

A more recent study found a third of K-12 teachers experienced at least one incident of verbal and/or threatening violence from students during COVID. More than two in five school administrators also reported verbal or threatening violence from parents during the pandemic.

Much focus within schools is placed on responding to violence when taking steps to prevent it in the first place should garner just as much if not more attention. Prevention of targeted violence requires cooperation from the potential victim (both in school and out) for a safety plan to be effective, and working to prevent targeted violence not only protects potential victims but also helps connect potential perpetrators with necessary resources.

This webinar will offer expertise on:

  • Prevention: How to recognize possible targeted violence danger signs and things you can do when implementing a protection plan, including the importance of involving external partners and understanding limitations schools might encounter.
  • Education: What you can do to help guide a potential victim of targeted violence to reduce exposure, detect and report possible danger signs, and cope with the stress.
  • Response: What you can expect that might be similar and different from other incidents, what might tip you off at the scene that it is targeted violence, and steps you might need to take to help resolve the incident.


Stephen Lopez
Emergency Manager
Doña Ana County Office of Emergency Management

Stephen Lopez is a retired police chief with over 30 years in law enforcement. During that time, he worked on a number of cases of targeted violence. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and holds bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and psychology, and a master’s degree in strategic planning for critical infrastructures. Lopez retired in 2021 to become the manager of the Office of Emergency Management for Doña Ana County, New Mexico, where he continues to work on planning, mitigation, response, and recovery for all types of natural and manmade disasters.

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