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Behavioral Intervention & Threat Assessment Teams: Exploring Reasonable Professional Responses

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  1. Behavioral Intervention & Threat Assessment Teams: Exploring Reasonable Professional Responses Christian Gamm, M.Ed., Doctoral Candidate Michael Mardis, Ph.D. Dana Sullivan, Ph.D. ACPA Annual Conference Baltimore, MD March 29, 2011

  2. Presentation Agenda • Introduction • Impetus behind the creation of threat assessment teams • Delworth Model, 1989 • Study Rationale • Results • Group Discussion

  3. Background • On April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded many others on Virginia Tech’s campus, before committing suicide. • On February 14, 2008, Steven Kazmierczak shot and killed five people and wounded 18 others before committing suicide at Northern Illinois University. • Individual Campus Crisis Situations (University of Louisville examples) • Due to recent tragedies at institutions of higher education, the reasonable professional response to managing at risk students has changed. • Administrators are developing ways to best assist students and ensure a safe campus environment.

  4. Questions for those attending • Does your campus have a team? • Are you on your campus team? • What is the name? (BIT,TAT,SCT) • When was your team created? • Why was the team created? (Purpose) • Do you have more than one team? • Do you keep records? • How do you maintain records? • Does your team receive training?

  5. Terminology • Students – troubled, at-risk, mentally disabled, disturbed, disruptive, distressed • Definition of team – threat assessment team (TAT), behavioral intervention team (BIT), student care team (SCT), critical incident response team (CIRT) • Over time will the profession come to a more standardized approach how these teams function and for what purpose

  6. BIT/TAT/SCT Team • Often there is a clear lack of authority to fully manage threatening situations and to make critical decisions (Pavela, 2008). • “Better communication about troubled students is needed,” so there is a need for a centralized approach to responding to these students (Fischer & Wilson, 2007).

  7. BIT/TAT/SCT Team • Actuarial and clinical approaches to assessing threats can lead to false positives (Redden, 2008). • According to the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, there is no “useful profile” for a school shooter. • 93% of crimes students experience occur off campus (Cornell, 2008). • Murder rate is 28 times higher off campus than on campus (Cornell, 2008).

  8. Impetus for Creating Teams • Research suggests the importance of “active engagement with troubled students sooner rather than later (Pavela, 2007).” • Governor’s Report in wake of Virginia Tech shootings; prior to this incident, very few higher education institutions had threat assessment teams • Extensive background regarding threat assessment at the elementary and secondary education levels. • Risk avoidance • Caring for students

  9. Role of Teams • Detect and monitor potentially violent students (Dunkle, Silverstein, & Warner, 2008) • Monitor other students who may be troubled or troubling in other ways (Dunkle, Silverstein, & Warner, 2008) • Engage troubled students as early as possible, helping them receive appropriate professional help (Pavela, 2008) • Coordinate response efforts of multiple units

  10. Delworth Model of Threat Assessment • Created in 1989 • Also referred to as a framework, the Assessment-Intervention of Student Problems (AISP) model • 3 components • Formation of campus assessment team • General assessment process for channeling students into the most appropriate on/off campus resources • Intervention with the student of concern

  11. Delworth Model of Threat Assessment From Jablonski, McClellan, & Zdziarski, 2008

  12. Flowchart for Managing Disturbed and Disturbing Students From Jablonski, McClellan, & Zdziarski, 2008

  13. Institutional Liability Concern • Negligence • Duty • Breach of Duty • Proximate Cause • Injury Courts have imposed a duty on colleges of protecting students from foreseeable harm (Kaplin & Lee, 2007).

  14. Privacy Laws • Often there is confusion regarding what information on troubled students educators and mental health officials can share (Fischer & Wilson, 2007). • Mental health professionals are allowed to share information in circumstances where they reasonably believe the client poses an imminent danger of serious injury to themselves or to others (Pavela, 2008). • FERPA permits educators to share confidential information with law enforcement, medical personnel, and others without the student’s consent to protect the health and safety of others(Fischer & Wilson, 2007).

  15. Rationale for the Study

  16. Results – Descriptive Data • 1044 institutions invited (Sent to SSAO) • 51 undeliverable email • 993 invitations, 181 responses • 18% response rate • Do you have a team designed to respond to students in crisis or at-risk? -175 indicated having a team to respond to students in crisis/distress. 5 No team, 1 not sure • 60 institutions (34% had had more than one team) • 8 institutions had 3 teams • Only 1 institution indicated having 4 teams (BIT, Conduct Review Board, Critical Incident Team, Emergency Management Team)

  17. Demographics: Type of Institution The majority of respondents were 4 year schools, almost evenly split between public and private institutions.

  18. Demographics: Type of Institution

  19. Demographics: Type of Institution

  20. Length of Time in Existence in Years (Team 1 – 175 Responses) • Mean = 4.26 • Minimum = .50 years • Maximum = 30 years • Median = 3 years

  21. Was your team created to minimize liability based on risks associated with recent high profile violent acts committed on campuses?(M = 3.04, SD = 1.11) (no significant differences by type of institution)

  22. Confidence in the Team’s Meeting Institutional Expectations (M = 3.90, SD = .79) (no significant differences by type of institution)

  23. Confidence that by implementing teams your institutions is meeting reasonable professional standards to effectively manage legal liabilities (M = 3.91, SD = .8) (no significant differences by type of institution)

  24. Overall Effectiveness of Team in Addressing Threat Assessment or Behavioral Intervention on Campus (M = 3.95, SD = .75) (no significant differences by type of institution)

  25. Team 1

  26. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet… • Student Crisis Action Team (SCAT) • Communicating Action Response for Emergency (CARE) • Care and Action for Students Team (CAST) • Student Protection Response Team (SPRT) • Action for Students In Suffering Team (ASIST) • Ensuring Action for Students in Emergency (EASE) • Action Crisis Team for Students (ACTS) • Care Team • Most common name: Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT)

  27. Most Frequently Occurring Responsibilities

  28. Situations Most Frequently Addressed (Team 1)

  29. Identified Team Members (175 respondents) • Counseling Center Director (153) • Director of Dept. of Public Safety (139) • Housing Director (125) • Dean of Students (114) * • Student Conduct Officer (112) • Health Services Director (81) • Faculty Rep (72) • VP of Student Affairs (61) • Others Identified (125) • Academic Advising, Financial Aid, Disabilities Office Rep., Legal Counsel, University Ministry, Athletics, International Office, Women’s Services, Registrar, Wellness Director, Career Services • Titles vary at types of institution (DOS and VPSA) *most frequently identified chair (DOS 72, VPSA 44, Other 38, Counseling Director 20)

  30. Team Training • 67.24 % Receive Training • 32.76 % No Training Types of training • In house (VPSA, Legal Council, DOS, Police, Counseling Center) • Webinars • Workshops • Conferences • NaBITA (National Behavioral Intervention Team Association) Brett Sokolow

  31. Audio Online Seminar BITMAGNA Publications 1. Why do we need a BIT?2. Who should be on our team?3. Is there an ideal team size?4. How often should the team meet?5. What are BIT recordkeeping best practices?6. What is the ideal function of a BIT?7. Who performs actual interventions?8. What should a BIT protocol include?9. How formal should the BIT operations be?10. How transparent should BIT operations be?11. What should be reported to the BIT?12. Who should report information to the BIT?13. How should information be reported to the BIT?14. What feedback should reporters receive from the BIT?15. How should the BIT communicate with the campus, and about what?16. What is the role of the counselor(s) on the BIT?17. Who should chair the BIT?18. What are post-intervention best practices?19. How can a BIT foster a culture of reporting?20. How does a BIT successfully address privacy/confidentiality concerns?

  32. Frequency of Team Meetings

  33. Record-keeping • Does your team keep records of meetings? • 79% Yes • 21% No • Does your team keep records of the specific students you’ve discussed? • 94% Yes • 6% No

  34. Record-keeping: How teams keep records of information discussed at meetings. • Notes (personal, informal) • Meting minutes • Programs (conduct software, Maxient software, Excel, Titanium) • Student files (DOS, Conduct, Counseling Center, University Police) • Shared Electronic Folder • List of students names and date discussed only • Individuals maintain records • Record action items only

  35. How do you make others aware of your team? • Visits to units/departments (n = 102) • Campus electronic notification to faculty staff (n = 99) • Website (n = 65) • Brochure (n = 39) • Campus electronic notification to students (n = 37) • Other: don’t make others aware, we don’t promote, faculty senate, Chairs meeting, faculty training, peer education

  36. Team 2 (n= 41) Team 2 Length of time in Existence in Years Mean = 3.8 Minimum = .50 years Maximum = 30 years Median = 3 years

  37. Discussion • Next steps as a profession • Where do we see this going (What is the future)? • Resources (Time & Funding) • What are the implications for us as practitioners? • Risk avoidance and liability issues – what can we do, what should we be doing, and what are we saying we can do with these teams? • Team responsibilities for situations involving employees • Areas for future research

  38. Discussion • Record Keeping/Documentation • Centralized or Decentralized • Formal informal • Access to information • Record keeping who has access from institution • Staff Training • Parental Notification • Communication with Campus • How are you sharing information • Privacy Laws • Who is on your team (faculty)? • Areas for future study

  39. Contact Information • Dr. Michael Mardis Dean of Students, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs University of Louisville 502.852.5787 m.mardis@louisville.edu • Christian Gamm Doctoral Candidate University of Louisville 502-852-3109 cagamm01@louisville.edu • Dr. Dana Sullivan Assistant Professor of Social Work Western Kentucky University 270.745.3535 dana.sullivan@wku.edu

  40. References • Cornell, D. (2008). No title. NASPA Leadership Exchange. • Delworth, U. (1989). Dealing with the behavioral and psychological problems of students. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. • Dunkle, J.H., Silverstein, Z.B., & Warner, S.L. (2008). Managing violent and other troubling students: The role of threat assessment teams on campus. Journal of College and University Law 34(3), 585-636. • Fischer, K., & Wilson, R. (2007). Review panel’s report could reverberate beyond Virginia Tech and Virginia. Chronicle of Higher Education 53. • Kapplin, W. & Lee, B. (2007). The Law of Higher Education Student Version. San Francisco. Jossey-Bass • Pavella, G. & Joffe, P. (2007). Responding to troubled and at-risk students. NASPA Webinar. 10/9/2007. • Pavella, G. (2008). Colleges won’t help students by fearing them. Chronicle of Higher Education 54(25), A37. • Redden, E. (2008). Predicting and preventing campus violence. Inside Higher Ed.com, 4/7/2008.