"There's a delicate balance because the school district has to take threats made against a school seriously," Klinger said. "But it puts the school in a tough position because a communication can cause uproar among parents."
"Having plans and policies in place before things like this happen is key so (district officials) can be sharing the appropriate amount of information so people feel safe and secure and aren't unintentionally scared," Klinger said. "... But a lot of people are winging it on a case-by-case basis. Our educators have a difficult job to address the community but not to cause panic."
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“If you have $25,000 to spend and you’ve spent it on something no one knows how to use, you might as well have flushed it,” said Dr. Amy Klinger, director of The Educator’s School Safety Network. “The shooter at Sandy Hook breached the buzzer system in 30 seconds. If you don’t train people in what to do when that buzzer system does get breached you’re not any safer than you were.”
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The small, Ohio-based nonprofit that tracks all these numbers has found itself at the center of the national conversation on school safety since February. The Educator's School Safety Network has been cited all over the news — from the New York Times to the Washington Post to NPR.
The nonprofit's only full–time staff members are a mother and daughter duo: Amy Klinger, an associate professor at Ashland University, and lawyer Amanda Klinger. It's a family business: two of Amy Klinger's other children have worked as subcontractors for the group. They lead safety and emergency response training for educators across the country — and whenever Amy has a minute, she combs through local news reports and social media to tally up the threats made to schools.
"It's just a lot of man-hours to do it, but it's really important that that data is right," Klinger says.
Dr. Amy Klinger was a featured expert in a recent Boston Herald analysis of the value of threat assessment management in preventing violence. The article discussed the need to allocate resources for training, not just hardware, and examined the effectiveness of threat assessment management as part of a school safety plan.
In the wake of recent school shootings in Florida and Texas, NBC News interviewed Dr. Amy Klinger as part of their discussion of reactionary school spending on safety and security hardware. The articles raises important questions about how schools can most effectively spend school safety funds and resources.
THE GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC: Protecting the Public’s Health
Presented jointly with Reuters
Inspired by students across the country, the gun violence prevention movement has gained new momentum. But can it last or lead to substantive change on the Congressional level? This Forum brought together experts in mental health, violence, and gun policy to discuss a variety of proposed gun violence and school safety measures. What is the status of background check laws? What is an appropriate way to discuss mental health in the conversation — without creating stigma or a chilling effect on people seeking care? What skills and training should educators have to spot warning signs and respond in crises? And, in light of restrictions around federally funded gun-related research, do policymakers have the information that they need to study these questions effectively? In this time of turbulence, our panelists looked at the evidence for — and possible unintended consequences of — today’s hotly debated measures to stop gun violence.
A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor explored the difficulties inherent in balancing school safety and justice - including First Amendment rights. ESSN's research data was featured in the article.
ESSN's research data on threats and incidents of violence in schools in the wake of the Parkland tragedy was recently demonstrated in info graphic form by TrustEd. To view the info graphic, click here.
Data from ESSN's on-going research on school-based violence and threats was featured in a recent CBS News story on a school shooting plot that was thwarted in Pennsylvania. See the full story by clicking here.
Part of the problem is circumstantial, said Amanda Klinger with the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network. An attack from a gun-wielding human is simply harder to prepare for than a fire.
But she also believes the response to Columbine and Sandy Hook has been less coordinated than the response to the Our Lady of Angels fire in Chicago. As an example, she points to all the different types of drills schools do — intruder drills, active-shooter drills — many with their own distinct variations.
Educator’s School Safety Network has tracked an average of 73 threats and other incidents each day at schools across the country in the three weeks after a gunman killed 17 students and educators. The Educator’s Safety Network is a nonprofit group focused on safety training for teachers and staff who work in schools.
However, she said, educators make thousands of decisions every day and must be trained to consider safety in every thing they do so they are prepared to handle any type of crisis.
She noted one school system that includes five minutes of safety discussion at every staff meeting.
“School safety is an education issue that happens to involve safety,” Klinger said, not a law enforcement issue that happens to occur in a school.