Averting Targeted School Violence

Juan Ramirez

March 25, 2022

The most recent U.S Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) analyzes 67 disrupted plots against K-12 schools from 2006-to 2018. There are many findings worth mentioning and sharing to identify a sensitive case in time. One of the key findings shows that individuals considering an act of violence often exhibit certain behaviors. Members of the community must report these behaviors and intervene in time, if possible, to help and avoid a tragedy.


The Secret Service has identified similarities in behavior between students who plotted attacks and those who perpetrated attacks on schools. These findings have been concluded by examining these 67 disrupted plots, which involved 100 plotters, and comparing the individual to school attackers;

  • Histories of school discipline and contact with law enforcement
  • Bullying or mental health issues, including depression & suicidality
  • A plan for completion of suicide as part of the attack
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)


The study showed that targeted school violence is preventable. One of the key findings is that students are best positioned to identify and report concerning behaviors but require training and resources to report their concerns. The BRAVE UP! Mode is an excellent tool that enables direct communication between students, counselors, and coexistence teams. As it is a secure and private channel, where students can choose to report incidents anonymously or not, it is (insert stat %) more likely for students to come forward. Also, among the BRAVE UP! Resources include the necessary activities and resources for students to know how to report their concerns.

  • Specific threats or concerning communication: In 94% of the plots, at least one plotters communicated their plans to attack the school. In addition to communications about their plots, 74% also made written, visual, verbal, or online statements. 
  • Grievances with classmates: This was the primary motivation for plots, accounting for at least part of the plotter’s motive in 31% of cases. In 21% of cases, the plotters retaliated for being bullied by peers.
  • Mental health issues: 70% of plotters exhibited some mental health symptom in journal writings, statements, and behaviors observed by others. Some of these issues were a result of severe life stressors.
  • Interest in violent or hate-filled topics: 67% of the plotters expressed an interest in violence. Disturbingly, 43% of the plots involved at least one student who expressed interest in the Columbine tragedy. In addition, 31% of the plotters conducted research into prior school attacks, and 21% displayed an interest in Hitler, Nazism, and/or white supremacy. 


Communities can help identify struggling students. By working together as a community, tragedy can be avoided. In every case in the report, tragedy was avoided because a community member came forward after witnessing concerning behavior from a classmate. Tools such as the BRAVE UP! mode enable students to communicate and report, and BRAVE UP! Data to identify and predict students at risk in time to intervene before its too late. Read the full report to learn more about the research and findings from the Secret Service. 

Related Posts