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Keynote: Understanding Student Threats of Violence


9:00 AM - 10:30 AM 

High profile school shootings have fostered the erroneous impression that schools are unsafe places and stimulated massive changes in both school discipline and school security. This presentation will examine the prevalence of school shootings and the comparative safety of schools, and review evidence on the adverse impact of zero tolerance discipline and heightened school security as safety measures. In contrast, school threat assessment offers schools an alternative approach that helps school authorities avoid over-reacting to minor student misbehavior and concentrate attention on helping a smaller number of students who make serious threats of violence. Controlled studies and results from large-scale implementation of school threat assessment show that it is a safe, effective, and equitable practice.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the prevalence of school shootings and the comparative safety of schools.
  2. Examine the deleterious effects of zero tolerance discipline and heightened school security.
  3. Explain the rationale and purpose of school threat assessment.
  4. Review scientific evidence in support of school threat assessment.
Dewey G. Cornell, Ph.D.

Dewey G. Cornell, Ph.D.

Professor of Education, Curry School of Education University of Virginia
Director, Virginia Youth Violence Project

Dewey G. Cornell, Ph.D. holds the Virgil Ward Chair in Education in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia. He is director of the Virginia Youth Violence Project and has published more than 200 articles and chapters in psychology and education, primarily concerned with school safety, school climate, and the prevention of violence. Based on his experience as a forensic clinical psychologist evaluating and treating violent offenders, and his work with the FBI in their study of school shootings, he led the development of the Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines. This model of school threat assessment is widely used throughout the United States and Canada.


March 18-20, 2021   Washington, D.C.

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