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Appendix A: Summary of Responses to Bomb Threats

The table below summarizes the responses to bomb threats in schools, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem. The first nine responses are aimed at preventing the initial occurrence of a bomb threat or rash of bomb threats in schools. Your effectiveness in implementing these responses will affect considerably the extent of harm resulting from an actual bomb threat and the efficiency and effectiveness of your response and the school’s response (Responses 10-15) to the threat.

Prevention and Harm Reduction
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
1Developing a bomb threat response plan Response plan reduces confusion should a threat occur and identifies points of early intervention…the bomb response plan is coordinated with the schools and community's overall disaster response planRequires collaboration with local emergency response teams, such as police, firefighters and EMS services
2Developing a threat reporting system Identifies possible warning signs and communicates that violence or threats of violence are not toleratedyou have a close and trusted working relationship with the schoolData collected may be used for policing research as well as indicating when immediate police intervention is required
3Helping the school conduct a security survey Identifies points of vulnerability for placement of bombs or break-insit is followed up with specific recommendations for improving security, such as installation of appropriate lighting, placement of parking lots, etc.Your help will be needed by the school to convince the school board and district supervisor that the expense of upgrading security is justified
4Controlling access to the school building and premises Makes it more difficult for would-be bombers to enter schoolthe school involves the parents and students in implementing these changesSome changes may be unpopular for legal, moral or political reasons
5Monitoring communication into and out of the school groundsIncreases chance of identifying possible sources of threatsthe school installs secure phone system, restricts cell phone use, monitors public phone use and Internet activityIncoming e-mail is difficult to control; regular mail must be inspected in case of letter bombs or threats by mail
6Warning and educating students that weapons, contraband, bomb-related materials and bomb threats are prohibitedStudents learn that there are clear rules and laws against bomb threats that the school takes seriouslythe school communicates clearly by its policies and actions that contraband, weapons, and explosives are prohibited from school grounds and that bomb threats have very serious consequencesSearches may be legally challenged; collaboration of parents and school board is essential in establishing these procedures. Instruction by law enforcement officers may not be an effective method
7Fostering a positive school climate, free of aggressionA safe and secure social and moral climate works against violence including bomb threatsyou get the total commitment of school principal to the whole-school approachDealing with milder forms of aggression may help reduce or prevent the incidence of serious violence; some methods of intervention such as peer mediation are not effective
8Identifying troubled children, bullies and victims of targeted violence Threat assessment training for teachers may help identify possible warning signs of bomb threatsprincipal provides time for teachers to meet together and share informationRequires principal's commitment to threat assessment approach, and time away from the classroom for teachers
9Reaching out to parents Parent cooperation helps to enforce rules and identify problems in advanceschools make their facilities available for after-school activities and other community events where parents are involvedRules aimed at preventing bomb threats and violence may appear unnecessary or excessive to parents; their involvement in understanding the rationale of such rules is essential
Immediate Responses to a Bomb Threat
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
10Recording the threat Response team, formed in Response 1, implements bomb threat response planall procedures in considerable detail with forms and checklists are already providedRecording exact details of threat is crucial
11Analyzing the threat Seriousness of the threat is assessed so that appropriate action can be determineddecisions have already been made by the bomb response team as to what level of threat warrants reporting to police or other type of responseDepends entirely on Response 1
12Evacuating the school Decision is taken whether to evacuate the school according to seriousness of the threat and local circumstancesdecision-making procedure and responsibility for making decision has been worked out before hand in the response planRequires school practice of evacuation routes, toolkit for identifying and tracking students, contacting parents etc., all of which would have been worked out in Response 1
13Locating a bomb Response team conducts a search using procedures and materials provided by Response 1those searching are very familiar with the plan and school premisesCan be greatly enhanced if preparations for bomb search were made in Response 1
14Talking to the media Positive media relations are established to ensure smooth and accurate communication to parents and communityan individual of the response team (Response 1) is the designated media spokesperson and is trained in media relationsIndividuals with media training may not be available in which case a press conference is called and a written statement made, in order to maintain better control over information
15Following up after the incidentHelp the school provide support for those who have been traumatized by the incidentyou contact the National Organization for Victim AssistanceThe response plan should be reviewed and adjusted where necessary
16Placing police in schools Police conduct sessions on gang avoidance, conflict resolution, violence reduction..done within a broader safer schools program, including extensive dialog with school authoritiesThere is a danger that police may be looked to as the disciplinarians thus shifting responsibility for the problem away from the school
Response With Limited Effectiveness
#ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If...Considerations
17Implementing zero-toleranceStudent is immediately removed from school Removing the student does not remove the threat, as threats are commonly called in by students who have a grudge, who may be on suspension or have dropped out
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