Secret Service Offers Training to Hundreds of Pennsylvania Educators and Safety Officials

More than 200 professionals attended the session, which focused on identifying troubled students and preventing violence.

Over 200 educators and police officers from across Pennsylvania gathered on Thursday to receive training from the U.S. Secret Service on how to identify signs that students are planning shootings or other acts of violence on campus.

The training was held at Council Rock High School South, the first to be held in the region since the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center released a report analyzing 41 acts of violence on campuses that took place between 2008 and 2017. Pennsylvania has also been the site of increased fighting and violence in school alongside a rise in student depression, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

While the training was closed to the public, educators said the session focused on prevention and identification of troubled students. David Volkman, the executive deputy secretary of the state’s education department, told the audience that the department considers social workers crucial to addressing the issue of violence in schools, according to the Inquirer.

Robert Whartenby, the director of facilities for the Centennial School District in Bucks County, Penn., told the Inquirer that the training addressed patterns of behavior of past school shooters, including failing grades, alcohol and drug use, and troubles within the home.

“There really wasn’t a description, like, ‘OK, black trench coat, this guy must be somebody who’s going to do something to us,’” Whartenby said, stressing that educators need to “embrace the process” of consistently monitoring student behavior to ensure that kids receive the help they need.

While Pennsylvania has not been the site of a mass school shooting, the Secret Service report included four incidents of “targeted school violence involving a knife or blade” that happened between 2008 and 2017, according to the Inquirer. State officials have taken action to address some aspects of the violence problem, including the state attorney general’s launch of an anonymous threat reporting system in 2019.

Educators and school security officials were hopeful that the training and other events like it would help schools develop better processes for identifying troubled students. The event itself was the product of collaboration between the Secret Service and state Rep. Wendi Thomas, who requested the presentation after a school board member brought her one of the agency’s reports.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

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