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Islamophobia Works in the Islamic State’s Favor

Islamic State fighters in Iraq. Photo:Medyan Dairieh / VICE News

Four days after the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, my team and I asked the audience of my BBC Asian Network phone-in show a question, as we do every day. This time, it was: “Will the Paris attacks make life more difficult for British Muslims?”

It had been less than a week since the terrorists of Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State, had gone on their murderous rampage. So, to some, it may have seemed insensitive to be asking so soon how British Muslims were feeling when French hearts from all backgrounds were broken and a manhunt to catch the surviving perpetrators was still ongoing.

Our reasoning was that what IS wanted was for discord to fester—for Islamophobia in the West to become deeply embedded, with the subsequent hatred and mistrust leading to more eager recruits being seduced into their death cult. So it was important for us to gauge whether or not they were succeeding in their aim. We also wanted to discover what it felt like on the ground for the average law-abiding, tax-paying, house-tending, car-driving, life-living British Muslim—or indeed British Asian, being that the average Islamophobe isn’t going to ask a potential victim to fill in a questionnaire clarifying their religious viewpoint before attacking them.

The calls, emails, and texts largely portrayed a depressing picture. I remember a British Muslim caller talking about how his sister had told their mother to not go to the bank that morning because “white people may attack you.” And this was not an isolated case of fear.

It is against this backdrop that The Sun newspaper printed its recent front page headline, “1 in 5 Brit Muslims have sympathy for Jihadis”—a conclusion the journalist responsible made after seeing the results of a poll that never mentioned the word jihadis. The survey’s 1,003 respondents were asked if they had any sympathy for young British Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria. Did that include members of the British Kurdish community going to Syria to fight IS, or joining the Free Syrian Army who are battling Assad and IS?

On the Sunday night before the print copy of the paper hit the newsstands, some had already seen the front page online and tweeted about how irresponsible and inflammatory they felt it was. A British Muslim member of the public, who also happens to follows me on Twitter, tweeted “All 5 Muslims in our household despise extremists. Either me or @TheSun is lying. Only one of us lies habitually.”

READ: I Conducted the Sun’s ‘1 in 5 Muslims’ Poll and Was Shocked By How It Was Used

On Monday morning as people awoke to this headline, my debate show team knew that our listeners would want to discuss the impact it would have. We asked “Is today’s Sunheadline a wake up call to British Muslims or irresponsible journalism?” Many sided with the latter part of the question, as did others in the media. That same day there were articles in other newspapers questioning the methodology and the very basic journalistic shortcomings of the piece, and it was beginning to look like a blatant piece of hate-mongering to some of my listeners.

The Sun replied to the criticism by stating that they had “published the poll’s findings clearly and accurately, including the questions in full.” A non-Muslim emailer called Karamjeet wrote, “The reporting in The Sun certainly doesn’t surprise me, but the way it is reported is totally irresponsible and inflammatory.” Another listener texted, “The Sun is very conniving… they were asking very leading questions, the answers of which could be easily manipulated.” With more than a hint of frustration in her tone, another listener said, “Like those three monkeys, the media by and large chooses to stay blind, deaf, and dumb to those voices who speak out against extremists and terrorists. What do they want? That I renounce my faith? That I take up non-Islamic practices? Will that then assuage them?”

The fact that British Muslim callers have described how their work colleagues no longer treat them with the courtesy they once experienced, or that they are fearful for the futures of their kids, should act as a wake-up call to politicians and journalists that ill-conceived headlines have repercussions for people who just wish to practice their faith and go about their business. We all have a responsibility to confront hatred and bigotry wherever it exists, and at the very least do nothing to unnecessarily exacerbate the situation.

You only have to see the ridicule and backlash that The Sun has faced this week to realize that we are a tolerant nation. But for some of my British Muslim listeners, the fear is that those headlines will be read by some as gospel, tainting the way some of their fellow Brits view them. Instead, we must all unite and show solidarity, for that will only infuriate IS and help to quell the number of Europeans making the journey to Syria to join the terrorists.

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Hybrid Firepower: Serbu Firearms’ SU-15 Rifle

Serbu Firearms’ SU-15 upper brings AK operation to the AR platform!
OCT 12, 2015

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With its unique hybrid design, Serbu Firearms’ new SU-15 upper allows shooters to keep the ergonomics, accuracy and parts interchangeability of the AR platform while increasing its reliability.

It’s hard to argue against the ergonomics of the AR. Few rifles are as easy to handle or operate. The safety’s location with this design is excellent, making it easy to access from either side while maintaining control at all times. Collapsible stocks make it possible for a wide variety of people to shoot an AR comfortably. The triggers are simple, with dozens of choices ranging from super-fast competition triggers to those built for tactical applications. Upper receivers of various calibers, barrel lengths and configurations can be easily changed to meet any need. There are lots of things to like, and the design has been refined and improved over the decades.

For many, the weakest point of the AR system is the buffer and the spring located in the buffer tube. Changing barrel lengths or calibers often requires these to be changed. Having that spring “boinging” in your ear can be distracting, if not outright annoying.

It can create issues with carrier tilt and other factors that effect reliability. Maybe the most limiting factor is that it makes folding stocks all but impossible without significant expense and alteration. Operating systems have improved over the years, but most long for the reliability, simplicity and robust construction of the AR’s strongest competitor, the AK-47. This has resulted in several attempts to meld the two designs. In the last few years we’ve witnessed what looks to be the best solution—an upper assembly built with AK-type internals that drops on an AR lower receiver, providing the best of both worlds.

To read the full article, check out the 2016 issue of GUN ANNUAL. To purchase the issue, go to PersonalDefenseWorld.com/subscribe.

Arrests Show Arrival of Barrio 18 Gang in Italy

Barrio 18 members arrested in Italy

Italian police arrested 15 suspected Barrio 18 members in Milan and other nearby cities in northern Italy, reported AFP.

The group — which was mostly comprised of Salvadorans but also reportedly included two Italians — is accused of crimes including extortion, drug trafficking, armed robbery and the attempted murder of a rival from the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang.

An Italian judge ordered the arrests following an investigation that began in January 2014 after a female Salvadoran accused one of the group’s members of sexually assaulting her, according to AFP.

SEE ALSO: Barrio 18 News and Profile

Central American gangs like Barrio 18 and MS13, which are known as “maras,” have been operating in Italy for years, particularly in northern immigrant communities, the report added.

InSight Crime Analysis

Over the last two years, security forces in both Italy and Spain have noted the expansion of the MS13 in Europe, and these latest report confirms they are not alone — their great rivals in Barrio 18 have also crossed the ocean.

The key question surrounding this development is whether the spread is a result of Central American migrants bringing mara street gang culture with them and setting up autonomous networks, or whether these new European based factions are running criminal operations with maras in Central America, suggesting the gangs have made the leap into transnational organizations.

Both gangs are also well established in parts of the United States and the US government has already designated the MS13 a transnational criminal organization, ranking them alongside criminal groups such as the Mexican cartels. However, despite evidence of cross-border collaboration in criminal activities, the decentralized nature and highly localized and territorial focus of the maras has always cast doubts on this classification.

There have also been reports of the Spanish maras coordinating with their counterparts in the Americas, but even if this level of cooperation were to expand, it is unlikely they would have the capacity to coordinate serious transatlantic criminal operations. If they were to seek to establish control over transnational activities such as drug trafficking in Europe, they also would likely encounter formidable opposition; in Spain drug trafficking and associated activities such as contract killing is largely controlled by offshoots of Colombian cartels, while Italy is the domain of powerful and well-connected mafias such as the ‘Ndrangheta.

The Governor’s Son, the Knights Templar and the Impotence of Mexican Justice

Written by Jesus PerezThursday, 24 September 2015

Rodrigo Vallejo and 'La Tuta'

Rodrigo Vallejo and ‘La Tuta’

The weak sentence handed out to Rodrigo Vallejo, son of the former governor of the state of Michoacan who held office during the height of the reign of the Knights Templar, is yet another example of the impotence ofMexico‘s judicial system.

A federal judge sentenced Vallejo on September 11 on charges of concealment. The appearance of a video showing Vallejo conversing with Servando Gomez, alias “La Tuta,” former head of the region’s dominant criminal group the Knights Templar, had already brought about hisfather’s resignation. Despite the controversial conversation captured in the video, the sentence, according to Vallejo’s lawyer, might not lead to actual prison time.

Nevertheless, an analysis of the case helps to show the problems and challenges that Mexican judicial and law enforcement systems face when trying to unravel criminal-political networks that have co-opted state institutions in parts of the country.

One notable example is the difficulty that the Attorney General’s Office in Mexico (PGR by its Spanish initials) has had securing a solid accusation against Vallejo. According to some sources, the PGR has numerous videos of Knights Templar members with state and municipal officials, from which it should be possible to draw out a hypothetical organizational structure showing the links between Michoacan politicians and the Knights Templar. Within this network, Vallejo is assuredly not a minor figure, as evidenced by his contact with high-level members of the criminal organization. To strengthen the case against Vallejo, it would have been helpful if investigators had used La Tuta as a witnessto explain how the support of the ex-governor’s son came about.

Vallejo’s sentence only corresponds to the concealment charges brought against him for not supplying authorities with information about La Tuta’s whereabouts, that is to say, the sentence is not for his association with La Tuta as depicted in the video, but for a crime committed after the video was shot. And even then, the charges were brought only after Vallejo made a statement in front of the PGR. This shows that even under the most charitable analysis, Mexican authorities do not have a clear image of the level of criminal penetration into the institutions they are investigating, which is only further compounded by the PGR’s poor use of witnesses.

However, this type of shoddy investigation of sophisticated criminal structures has become a habit, as clearly shown in the year-old Ayotzinapa case, where 43 students disappeared in the tumultuous state of Guerrero.

For example, the Group of Independent Interdisciplinary Experts (GIEI), which was asked by Mexican authorities to help support the Ayotzinapa investigation, called for all related parts of the investigation to be brought before a single tribunal. The petition exemplified the various problems with Mexico‘s spider web of a legal system, such as the dispersion of related investigations among several tribunals, which contributes to the type of impunity seen in the Vallejo case.

Furthermore, although the PGR has detained hundreds of people who have shed light on the disappearance of the students, the prosecution of municipal representatives and members of Guerreros Unidos — the criminal group responsible for the disappearances — has been done exclusively from a municipal perspective. There has been a lack of focus on exposing the connections between those who have been accused in the case and networks that operate on a scale that goes far beyond the local level.

Faced with the failed strategies described above, Mexico can learn from the policies of other countries. The para-politics scandal of Colombia, which exposed links between politicians and the paramilitary group the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), took place in a different context  but the case provides examples of tools that could be used to take on complex criminal structures like the Knights Templar. For example, there are lessons to be learned from the charges brought against those implicated in the para-politics scandal regarding how meetings between politicians and criminal groups can be used to infer certain roles and relationships. Such meetings make clear the shared criminal purpose of both parties and emphasize how important support from political circles can be for those criminal purposes.

More specifically, Colombia has made advances with respect to its judicial culture thatMexico could also implement, provided that the government shows an interest in adapting policies and the law to the actual challenges presented by organized crime. One option is to focus on investigating the larger contextual framework of organized crime. In this type of process, Colombian prosecutors prioritize certain aspects of the investigation that can shed light on the leadership structures of criminal organizations. In exposing the dynamics of organized crime and its relationships to distinct elements of the public sector, the prosecution’s efforts can also serve a larger educational purpose for society at large, something that is essential for a country in the midst of a security crisis like Mexico is experiencing. This type of contextual nuance gets lost with case-by-case investigations.

Along a similar line, the Public Ministry in Guatemala has a team of 120 analysts whose job is to study and compare multiple cases at once to see if there are any connections between them. Using this strategy, prosecutors can save effort and resources. Instead of prosecuting every case at an individual level, they end up taking down entire criminal networks, as they did in a historic case against gang members in 2014.

Returning to the Vallejo case, even though the general public has long assumed it to be true, it is difficult to understand how certain members of Michoacan’s political elites and the Knights Templar are linked — something most citizens see as self-evident — and to understand the ways they co-opted much of the state government without connecting the dots between seemingly isolated cases that share characteristics and a general pattern. In this sense, it would be natural to link the Vallejo case to that of Jesus Reyna, the former interim governor of Michoacan, who is still under investigation for his alleged involvement in the Knights Templar’s political network.

Whether the case ends here or if prosecutors bring new charges, a case like Vallejo’s reveals a larger lesson about what happens when the judicial system introduces a narrative that supplants official propaganda and the conspiracy theories that feed public opinion inMexico on matters regarding security. In other words, a narrative that emphasizes how the country’s legal institutions understand the nature of organized crime and what image they are sharing with the public. In this case, the focus has been narrow and the image the legal system has projected has been one of impotence.

Uruguay an Important Weapons Source for LatAm Criminals?

The Santa Bernardina Air Base

The Santa Bernardina Air Base

An ammunition heist from an Air Force base in Uruguay points to corruption in the country’s security forces, and further indicates that the generally peaceful country serves as a prominent source of weapons for South America criminal groups.

Investigations by Uruguayan authorities found that roughly 18,000 pieces of ammunition stolen from the Santa Bernardina Air Base ended up in the hands of criminal groups in Brazil; including Rio de Janeiro’s notorious Red Command (Comando Vermelho), reported El Pais.

The munitions theft — believed to have occurred sometime between November 2014 and February 2015 — was made public on June 21 by Congressional delegate Jaime Trobo.

According to investigations, the stolen ammunition weighed between 650 and 750 kilograms, and was removed from the base through its main gate using a truck. During the months the robbery is believed to have taken place, security cameras, motion sensors, and electric fences guarding the base’s weapons depot were not functioning.

Around 20 soldiers are under investigation. Mid-ranking soldiers and officers are also expected be implicated as investigations progress, reported El Pais. It is also possiblemore ammo was stolen than initially believed.

In 2007, the Uruguayan Air Force experienced a similar weapons theft, which resulted in four soldiers, three civilians, and one prison inmate being charged for stealing and organizing the weapons’ sales to Brazilian criminal groups.

InSight Crime Analysis

The theft of such a large amount of ammunition from an active Air Force base could not have occurred without complicity on the part of corrupt soldiers and officers.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Arms Trafficking

While such instances of corruption are less common among Uruguay’s security forces, they are not without precedent. In 2012, around 20 police officers came under investigation for removing over 200 firearms from police stockpiles and selling them to Brazilian criminal groups. More recently, in April, three policemen and a businessman were arrested on suspicions they were trafficking guns to Brazil’s Red Command.

According to a 2009 report by the Small Arms Survey, while having the highest per capita civilian gun ownership in South America (one firearm for every three people), Uruguay has a relatively small collection of modern small arms (61,000). However, much of this inventory was found to be useless, owing to reductions in military personnel. The report also documented a surplus of around 80,000 outdated rifles, sub-machine guns, and light machine guns, which serve no function in Uruguay’s national strategy and whose status was unknown.

The existence of such surplus weapons stocks may prove too tempting an opportunity for some corrupt military officials. Neighboring Brazil offers a prime market, where evidence suggests groups like the Red Command have been seeking to obtain ever more powerful weapons. In 2013, 40 percent of weapons seized in Rio de Janeiro were listed as “category A” — including rifles, machine guns, and submachine guns — representing a 33 percent increase since 2009.

Actor Stephen Collins admits to sexual abuse of underage girls

Actor Stephen Collins speaks onstage on Aug. 1, 2010 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty)
Actor Stephen Collins speaks onstage on Aug. 1, 2010 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty

Actor Stephen Collins admits to sexual abuse of underage girls

12/17/14 09:20 AM—UPDATED 12/17/14 10:15 AM

Actor Stephen Collins, who is best known for his role as the wholesome reverend on the former TV show “7th Heaven,” has admitted exclusively to People Magazine that he engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with three young girls during a 20-year span.

Collins, 67, told the publication in a 1,000-word statement that there were three victims, all minor girls, in five separate incidents from 1973 to 1994.

“Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since. I’ve decided to address these issues publicly because two months ago, various news organizations published a recording made by my then-wife, Faye Grant, during a confidential marriage therapy session in January 2012. This session was recorded without the therapist’s or my knowledge or consent,” he reportedly wrote to People. Collins and Grant are in the process of finalizing their divorce.

In the statement, Collins wrote that he twice exposed himself to a pre-teenage girl in 1973, and had another inappropriate encounter with the same individual inside his home, the “Today” show reported on Wednesday.

“When the girl and I were watching TV alone, I moved her hand in such a way that caused her to touch me inappropriately,” Collins wrote, according to the “Today” show report. “It was a completely impulsive act, and it’s haunted me ever since to think of what I put her through.”

Collins also admitted to exposing himself to two teenage girls in 1982 and 1994.

He said he directly apologized to one of the women, 15 years after the incident occurred.

Collins came under fire in October after celebrity gossip website TMZ released the audio recordingthat his wife allegedly secretly taped. It reveals a man identified as Collins confessing during a therapy session to molesting three young girls. The New York Police Department also received the recording. The Los Angeles Police Department previously said officers couldn’t verify the tape, given to them in 2012.

“The publication of the recording has resulted in assumptions and innuendos about what I did that go far beyond what actually occurred. As difficult as this is, I want people to know the truth,” Collins added.

On Oct. 9, a victim, who was 13 years old at the time of the incident, reported a child-molestation allegation connected to Collins. Days later, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department began investigating the accusation.

Collins added that nothing inappropriate occurred on the set of “7th Heaven.” The TV series premiered in August 1996 and was broadcast originally until May 2007. He was cut from several upcoming planned TV and movie appearances following the recent allegations.

Collins, who remained out of the public eye since the recording surfaced, has not been charged with a crime. The victims have not identified themselves publicly.

His full statement will be available in the most recent edition of People, out Friday.

The news comes amid spiraling allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted multiple women in the past. The comedian has never been charged criminally.

Convicted Terrorist Requests Transfer To Guantánamo

Friday, December 12, 2014
Zacarias Moussaoui (AP photo)

The man known as the “20th hijacker” of the 9/11 terrorist attacks wants to join other conspirators and detainees at Guantánamo Bay. The reason, he claims, is to escape the threats and assaults he is subjected to by inmates and guards at the “Supermax” prison in Colorado, where he is serving a life sentence.

Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted in 2005 of being part of the plot that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. He pled guilty to charges that he trained and prepared to hijack a commercial airliner and fly it into the White House.

Moussaoui has spent the past nine years at the federal super-maximum prison in Florence, Colorado. There, he claims he has been subjected to assaults and harassment by guards and even other inmates, including Ramzi Yousef, who organized the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

He also claims those inside the prison want to murder him and that he has tried committing suicide, but failed. “So no suicide, Victory by Allah,” Moussaoui wrote.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International accused the federal government of “callous and dehumanizing” practices at the Supermax prison, in which prisoners are subjected to round-the-clock isolation for years at a time.

In addition to his request for a transfer to Guantánamo, Moussaoui wrote in letters (pdf) filed with a federal court in South Florida that he has “inside knowledge about al-Qaida and the Sept. 11 plot,” and wants to testify in lawsuits filed by terrorism victims, according to the Associated Press.

In addition to referring to himself as the “so-call 20th hijacker” [sic], Moussaoui says he is a “Slave to Allah.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

To Learn More:

’20th Hijacker’ Zacarias Moussaoui Seeks Transfer To Guantánamo (by Curt Anderson, Associated Press)

20th Hijacker’ Seeks Transfer to Guantanamo (by Dan McCue, Courthouse News Service)

Zacarias Moussaoui v. Federal Bureau of Prisons (U.S. District Court, Southern Florida) (pdf)

Amnesty International Criticizes Conditions at U.S. Supermax Prison that Houses Terrorists (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Threat Assessment: Predicting and Preventing School Violence

Preventing school violence is a top priority for school and public safety officials today. Efforts include creating more positive school environments, establishing crisis response teams, increasing security measures, and improving school/community collaboration. Considerable energy also has been devoted to developing a process to identify students at-risk of becoming violent before they cause harm. Unfortunately there is no easy formula or “profile” of risk factors that accurately determines the “next school shooter.” Most students who display multiple risk factors will never become violent offenders and some who pose a real threat will not demonstrate a prescribed level of risk. The use of profiling (i.e., ranking a student’s behaviors and risk factors against a set of criteria) strongly increases the likelihood of misidentifyingyoungsters. Moreover, the process focuses solely on identification, not intervention, and fails to provide the necessary help to potential offenders.

A more viable approach is that of threat assessment, which uses a set of strategies or pathways to determine the credibility and seriousness of a threat and the likelihood that it will be carried out. Effective threat assessment must be conducted by a team of trained professionals as part of a comprehensive school safety program and with the support of all members of the school community (students, staff, parents, public safety). This process considers the full range of relevant factors and provides appropriate interventions for the potential offender(s).

Although there is no official model for threat assessment, experts in school crisis management, mental health, and public safety have identified common basic components of effective threat assessment procedures. The U.S. Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have taken a leadership role in collecting data and developing recommended procedures and protocols. (Access full reports at http://www.ustreas.gov/usss/ntac_ssi.shtml andhttp://www.fbi.gov/publications/school/school2.pdf) The following information can help schools establish a threat assessment process, but school officials also should review comprehensive recommendations and arrange for formal training of staff.

Understand the facts about school violence and potentially violent offenders.

It is important to avoid misperceptions about the prevalence and causes of school violence. Perhaps most critical to keep in mind is that no single factor leads to violence; multiple factors cause a person to become violent. All approaches to prevention and intervention, including threat assessment, should be based on what we actually know about the phenomenon. Secret Service and FBI findings include:

  • School violence is not an epidemic
  • All school shooters are not alike and there is no accurate profile of the violent offender
  • School shooters often have social difficulties, but they are not always loners
  • Although a common factor, revenge is not the exclusive motivation for school shootings
  • Most attackers had previously used guns and had access to them, but access to weapons is not the most significant risk factor
  • Unusual or aberrant behaviors or interests are not the hallmark of a student destined to become violent
  • Incidents of targeted violence at school are rarely impulsive
  • Prior to most incidents, the attacker told someone about his/her idea or plans
  • Most shooting incidents were not resolved by law enforcement
  • In many cases, other students were involved in some capacity
  • In a number of cases, bullying played a key role in and could have been a predictor of the attack
  • Prior to the incident, most attackers engaged in behavior that caused concern

Establish a clear district-wide policy.

It is important to have specific, well-articulated procedures for exploring allegations of actual or potential violence. These matters require prompt, discrete, and responsible action on the part of school officials. The policy should include protocols for:

  • Assigning and training the threat assessment team
  • Evaluating and interviewing the potential offender
  • Notifying and working with parents
  • Interviewing other students and staff
  • Determining the level of intervention required
  • Bringing in additional professionals (e.g., mental health, social service, law enforcement)
  • Providing follow-up observation and services
  • Responding to media should the need arise

Build an interdisciplinary, trained threat assessment team.

Effective threat assessment is based on the combined efforts of a threat assessment team, usually composed of trained school-based personnel and select members of the broader school community such as law enforcement, faith leaders, and representatives of social service agencies. School personnel should include top administrators, mental health professionals, and security staff. The interdisciplinary team approach improves the efficiency and scope of the assessment process, (which can be time-consuming), provides diverse professional input, and minimizes the risk of observer bias. Specific training for all members of the team is essential! The Secret Service now offers training on preventing incidents of targeted violence, responding to threatening situations, and creating safe school climates.

Create a climate of trust between students and adults.

Students often know of potential problems well in advance of adults. They need to feel comfortable telling a trusted adult about concerns they have regarding threats of violence of any kind. Parents and community leaders should be incorporated as part of the supportive and trusted school/community environment. Students, staff, and parents should understand the following:

  • Violence prevention is everyone’s responsibility
  • The school has a threat assessment process in place
  • How the process works and who is involved
  • All information will be handled discreetly
  • The purpose is to protect both the potential victim(s) and perpetrator(s)

Assess the threat’s type and level of risk.

All threats are not created equal.” A threat is an expression of intent to do harm or act out violently against someone or something. It can be spoken, written or symbolic. But many students who make a threat will never carry it out and, conversely, others who pose a real threat never make one first. There are a number of different types of threats and levels of risk. According the FBI, these include:

1. Types of Threats

  • Direct threat identifies a specific act against a specific target delivered in a straightforward, clear, and explicit manner.
  • Indirect threat tends to be vague, unclear and ambiguous. Violence is implied, but threat is phrased tentatively, and suggests that a violent act could occur, not that it will occur.
  • Veiled threat is one that strongly implies but does not explicitly threaten violence.
  • Conditional threat is often seen in extortion cases. It warns that a violent act will happen unless certain demands or terms are met.

2. Levels of Risk

Low Level of Threat

  • Poses a minimal risk to the victim and public safety
  • Is vague and indirect
  • Information is inconsistent, implausible or lacks detail
  • Lacks realism
  • Content suggests person is unlikely to carry out the threat

Medium Level of Threat

  • Could be carried out, although it may not appear entirely realistic
  • More direct and more concrete than a low level threat
  • Wording suggests the individual has given some thought to how the act will be carried out
  • Includes a general indication of place and time but signs still fall well short of a detailed plan
  • No strong indication that the individual has taken preparatory steps
  • Statements seek to convey that the threat is not empty: “I’m serious!” or “I really mean this!”

High Level of Threat

  • Direct, specific, and plausible
  • Appears to pose imminent and serious danger to safety of others
  • Suggests concrete steps have been taken, i.e., stalking or acquisition of a weapon
  • Almost always requires bringing in law enforcement

Consider all factors shaping the student’s decision-making and behavior.

Threat assessment done correctly entails a deliberate and focused process for examining all relevant information, such as the student’s personal history, relationships at home and school, recent life events, resiliency and coping style, etc. It is important to remember that you probably know less about the potential offender than you think and to try to view information through the student’s eyes. The FBI has proposed a Four-Pronged Assessment Model that examines:

1. Personality of the Student

  • Behavioral Characteristics
    • Capacity to cope with stress and conflicts
    • Ways of dealing with anger, humiliation or sadness, disappointments
    • Level of resiliency related to failure, criticism or other negative experiences
    • Response to rules and authority
    • Need for control
    • Capacity for emotional empathy or respect for others
    • Sense of self-importance compared to others (superiority/inferiority)
  • Personality Traits
    • Tolerance for frustration
    • Coping skills
    • Focus on perceived injustices
    • Signs of depression/other mental illness
    • Self-perceptions (narcissism/insecurity)
    • Need for attention
    • Focus of blame (internalizes/externalizes)

2. School Dynamics

  • Student’s attachment to school
  • Tolerance for disrespectful behavior
  • Approach to discipline (equitable/arbitrary)
  • Flexiblity/inclusiveness of culture
  • Pecking order among students
  • Code of silence
  • Supervision of computer access

3. Social Dynamics

  • Peer group relationships and culture
  • Use of drugs and alcohol
  • Media, entertainment, technology
  • Level and focus of outside interests
  • Potential copycat effect of past incidents

4. Family Dynamics

  • Parent-child relationship
  • Attitudes toward pathological behavior
  • Access to weapons
  • Sense of connectedness/intimacy
  • Attitude toward/enforcement of parental authority
  • Monitoring of TV, video games, or Internet

Determine and implement interventions in a timely manner.

Specific procedures should be established in advance. Once the initial assessment has taken place, the team must decide the appropriate next steps. Interventions may need to be staged (e.g., immediately bringing the student in question under adult supervision versus recommending mental health counseling). Considerations should include whether or not the student can stay in school, what alternatives may be needed, when and how to notify parents, when and if to contact law enforcement, and what mental health, social service, and school-based interventions are needed to reduce/eliminate the student’s risk of becoming violent.

Provide supportive interventions to potential offenders.

The goal of threat assessment is not only to keep schools safe, but also to help potential offenders overcome the underlying sources of their anger or hopelessness. Effective threat assessment provides adults useful information about a student’s risks and personal resources. In most cases students will not carry out their threat, but may still be crying out for help. The assessment process should incorporate referral to appropriate mental health and social services, as well as a system for following up on the effectiveness of interventions. Among the other potential risks that can be identified and prevented are suicide, alcohol and drug use, physical abuse, dropping out, and criminal activity.

Although there is no way to guarantee eliminating school violence, a comprehensive interventions-based approach can greatly minimize the risk to both the potential victims and perpetrators. Threat assessment must be an integral part of a system that fosters a positive school environment; trust between students and adults; respect for others; intolerance for violence of any kind; collaboration between home, school, and community; and the belief that everyone can build toward their strengths given the appropriate support.

© National Association of School Psychologists

http://www.nasponline.org/resources/factsheets/threatassess_fs.aspx

ROK Mobile and Safer Schools for America Will Donate A Classroom Bullet Resistant Protection System To Valley Vista High School

Los Angeles, CA, December 6, 2014—John Paul DeJoria, well-known for John Paul Mitchell Hair Care, Patron Tequila, and the recently launched ROK Mobile, together with Safer Schools for America (SSFA), announced today that they will donate a Bullet Resistant School Protection System to Valley Vista High School in Fountain Valley, California on December 12, 2014.

The unfortunate truth is that shootings on school grounds are on the rise. Building on the initiative’s collaborative framework, John Paul, through the ROK Mobile RAMP program and SSFA mission, will bring together students, parents, educators, PTAs, and local law enforcement to educate them on the practicality and affordability of the bullet resistant system. While violence cannot be fully stopped, these two parties are joining forces to try to reduce the risks and protect our children and teachers from injury. John Paul and SSFA believe that parents have the right to know that these systems are readily available and easy to install. Similar to how Airlines protect their pilots by using bulletproof doors, The Bullet Resistant System will work as the first barrier to keeping kids, faculty, and staff safe.

We embrace the opportunity to provide violence prevention and school safety resources to our community’s schools and families. It is vital we work together as a community to keep our children safe.” John Paul DeJoria, Co-Founder, ROK Mobile.

ROK Mobile, an innovative, telecommunications and music streaming company will be working with PTA’s along with SSFA on a nationwide fundraiser program. These fundraisers will enable patrons from the enrolled schools that purchase the ROK Mobile service to contribute $24/year per phone activation. The fundraising monies will be allocated directly to school districts for security needs, such as increased school ground security, security technology, etc. Safer Schools for America will match dollar for dollar all funds acquired through the fund-raising activities with certified Bullet Resistant Security Products. John Paul’s hope is to create a groundbreaking fundraising program, addressing children’s safety by raising funds with something that has become essential to everyday life, the mobile phone.

For more information: visit rokmobile.com and Saferschoolsforamerica.com

Contact:

Sage Dyer

sage@saferschoolsforamerica.com

562*531*1964

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