Assault Intervention - Risk Reduction Methodology
School Partnership Grant

The Assault Intervention - Risk Reduction Assessment was developed through a School Partnership Grant #98SWVX0127 in cooperation with the following agencies:

This assessment was designed by subject matter experts from law enforcement, counseling, schools and juvenile courts. Hundreds of referrals for counseling were screened and the referrals for assaults were separated for use in this project. Questionaires were initially designed by Oasis Center, Incorporated (Oasis Center is where the Public School system sends young people for counseling). A database of characteristics was developed from those individuals who had been sent to counseling for assaulting peers or teachers. Background and behavior patterns were compiled from Juvenile Justice professionals. Risk factors were those factors that surfaced again and again with these individuals who had already assaulted others. The group of subject matter experts met and evaluated the risk factors that had been derived earlier and these risk factors were weighted as to expected importance in indicating likely aggression or imminent assault.

Minor (group concensus) risk factors were given little weight and major risk factors were given higher weights. A combination of weighted factors were then necessary to show that the student was at risk. (For example) Gang membership was a high risk factor with quite a bit of research and experience to show that there is an increased risk for a gang member to assault other people. Gang membership alone was not enough to give this student a high risk assessment. Add depression and repeated acts of rage over seemingly inconsequential issues and you are closer to a high risk student. After-school activites, mentoring and supervision were the biggest factors to ameliorate the bad risks. Many factors couldn't be changed but they were still factors to be considered. These factors are shown - generally with supporting research by others (for that one, single factor). Two hundred forty (240) juveniles were evaluated by School Resource Officers in Nashville Davidson County (full time uniformed Metro Police Officers assigned to the Metro Nashville Public School System) and the students' scores reflected their performance (non-weapon assaults) on the assessment very closely. The students were well known to the officers and students who scored at the highest risk levels had already been counseled or arrested for fighting at some previous time. Most students scored very low risk on the assessment. A few students had one or two acts that raised their risk factor.

The numerical score was removed so "scoring" would not become a self fulfilling prophecy for students evaluated by the assessment. Recommendations at the end of each assessment are generally factors that could be changed for that individual - there may not be many or enough good factors to rehabilitate a troubled youth but, at least there are some starting points for intervention listed. Most school systems do not have School Resource Officers to evaluate students but combinations of community, school, and criminal justice resources are effective in reducing violence in school. Future data (normalized data from other areas of the U.S.) will further refine the assessment as will evaluation of predictive models (using a variation of interpretive structural modeling designed by Dr. John Warfield to help resolve complex issues in societal systems - or design in any system).

This project was supported by grant #98SBWX0127 awarded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions contained within this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The primary group consisted of Joe Anderson (Metro School Security Coordinator), Lieutenant Coleman Beard (Metropolitan Police School Resource Officer Coordinator and Project Director), Sergeant Scott Duncan (Metropolitan Police Planning/Accreditation), Judy Freudenthal, EdD., LPC, LAODAC (Oasis Center Clinical Director), Captain Ken Pence (Metropolitan Nashville Police Grant Coordinator - Computer CGI/HTML Scripting- Interpretive Structural Modeling), and Gary Lukowski, PhD (Metropolitan Nashville Juvenile Court for Judge Betty Adams).

The test was scripted and edited by the group and while putting links to intervention, not before, the Early Warning - Timely Response information site was discovered and linked. This information went on to confirm almost all the common indicators derived from the counseled and incarcerated juveniles and parallelled the risk factors defined by our database. Links were then added to substantiate questions and provide relevant resources. Intervention strategies integrated into the test provides teachers and administrators a easy, timely, no-cost method to perform a quick assessment of a student with recommendations of resources and alternatives.

Currently the rating system is being evaluated with the help of Juvenile Court officers who are taking the test using all the juveniles incarcerated for simple and aggravated, non-weapon assaults. Oasis Center is redoing the assessment to confirm scoring for individuals receiving counseling for non-weapon assaults. These ranges wil be compared to normal students (ones without a history of assault) and the test scores will help redefine the ranges in the test. School Resource Officers (uniformed officers in Metro schools) will also take the test with specific disruptive students in mind and see how they stack up in assault potential (from assessment) versus demonstrated behavior. Metro Police Officers in the schools (SROs), Juvenile Court Probation Officers, Metropolitan School Security Officers, a High School Principal (Swor - Glencliff High School), and student activists will help further refine the test which has four main categories: