New study reveals disturbing trend with school violence in Ohio

School Threat study
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COLUMBUS -- Amanda Klinger of the Educator's Safety Network knows there is cause for concern with the recent uptick of violence in schools.

“I don’t want to ever talk anything up to just being a sign of the times, but as parents and educators, we do need to be concerned.”

That’s the message from Klinger. ESSN is a national, non-profit group based in northwest Ohio that studies school threats and incidents from elementary school through high school.

According to the new analysis looking at the 2016-17 school year, each state was given a composite score based on the categories of: Total number of incidents and threats; Incidents and threats per million residents; Total number of violent threats; Total number of violent incidents; Threats per million residents; and Incidents per million residents.

Ohio has been very high in states, specifically in bomb threats,” Klinger, ESSN’s operations director, said. “And then this year, as well, in all violent threats and incidents so the concern that we have is across six different categories that we track, Ohio is in the top 10 of states in all six of those categories.”

Klinger believes one of the reasons for Ohio’s high ranking is because of lack of training. While law enforcement around the state have stepped up their active shooter training scenarios and drills, the same can’t be said for teachers and staff.

“Unfortunately, Ohio educators haven’t had a ton of training and not a real concerted effort to do prevention,” Klinger said. She once was an elementary and secondary teacher before getting her law degree from the University of Akron.

The new study from ESSN breaks down school threats by weapon (such as a gun) or bomb, and looks at incidents based on shootings, shots fired, weapons present, intruders, etc. For the 2016-17 school year, Ohio lead the nation with 65 bomb threats, 8 percent of all bomb threats that occurred in the U.S., according to ESSN.

A spokesperson for Ohio’s Homeland Security says leaders have not had a chance to review the latest study, however “staff from the Center of P-20 Safety and Security have consulted with Educator’s School Safety Network (ESSN) on several occasions in the past. “

The analysis also maps out school violence in Ohio where it shows incidents that Klinger describes as the “echo chamber effect.”

“There are a lot of folks calling in a bomb threat, it’s a joke or it’s for attention or we want to get out of a test,” Klinger said. “When there is a lot of media coverage of bomb threats in a neighboring school district, we see that those tend to geographically cluster.”

Klinger says these so-called “copycats” need to realize that school threats – joke or no joke – have profound consequences.

10TV: Parents could be billed for police response to school threats.