Notes from Members: School Safety Preparedness

On July 5th, the School Safety Preparedness Taskforce convened by Governor Chris Sununu released its recommendations for strengthening school safety and security in schools across the State. Below is an excerpt from that report:

It is important to recognize that while there is no identified profile for an active shooter in schools, certain characteristics are common. The Task Force approached the topic with the following understandings regarding active shooters in schools: prior to most active shooter incidents at schools someone typically knew about the attack, the assailant engaged in behavior that caused concern in others without directly threatening the school, the assailant considered or attempted suicide, the assailant had difficulty coping with personal loss or failure, and the assailant was likely bullied.

The mental health recommendations focus on creating a culture in schools that adheres to safety protocols, that is free of the stigmatization of mental health challenges, and reduces or prevents harm or violence of all kinds. Additional recommendations include providing help for those experiencing a mental health challenge, assessing possible threats posed by individuals or groups exhibiting warning signs or pre-incident indicators, and expanding community and not-for-profit mental health services.

A full copy of the report and a statement from the Governor can be found here:

Response to the Report

Becky Whitley, Children's Behavioral Health Policy Coordinator, said:

"The report took into account children's behavioral health, but it could have gone further in recommending additional support to the state's emerging 'system of care' approach to children with mental health needs. Continuing to examine gaps in the children’s behavioral health system and discuss what changes must be implemented to effect change must be included in any conversation New Hampshire has about school safety.” 

Ken Norton, Executive Director of NAMI NH, said:

"NAMI NH is very pleased with the report and its recommendations, particularly the emphasis placed on addressing school climate, social and emotional development and mental health which have the potential to increase the safety, well-being and learning environment of all students. Many different stakeholders participated and offered input to the task force. Director Plummer and NH's Homeland Security Dept did a great job assisting the task force in merging diverse opinions into the consensus recommendations contained in this report."