Supporting Students and Preventing Violence: Recognizing and Responding to Concerning Student Behaviors 

Recognizing and Responding to Concerning Student Behaviors: Everyone within a school and community plays a role in maintaining safety and supporting the wellbeing of students. This guide was developed to help recognize student behaviors which may indicate a cause for concern and how to respond to a student who may be in crisis.


Creating a Safe and Connected School Climate

According to the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education, creating a safe and connected school climate is the best way to prevent acts of violence from occurring in school.  Watch this video for more information or check out the full report (pages 69-72). You may also check out the OPI's Positive School Climate and Whole Child Supports pages for strategies to build positive relationships in schools. 

10 Key Findings from the Safe School Initiative 

The Safe School Initiative examined incidents of targeted school violence from the time the incident took place backward to identify the events and factors that lead to the incident. The findings from this work suggest there are actions that educators, law enforcement, and others can take to prevent targeted school violence from occurring. Check out the video below or read the full report from the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education

School Threat Assessment and Intervention Teams

Throughout the state, many schools are taking steps to make schools safer while simultaneously supporting student well-being. Implementing a threat assessment is one example of these efforts. 

A threat assessment is a violence prevention strategy that that aims to:

  • Identify students who may be planning to commit an act of violence
  • Determine the seriousness of the threat of violence 
  • Intervene to prevent the act from occurring and address the underlying problem or conflict 

We invite you to watch this video to learn more about school-based threat assessments and why they are beneficial for supporting students and school safety. And please check out the report, Enhancing School Safety Using a Threat Assessment Model, for more information on how to implement a threat assessment and intervention process in your school.   

If you are interested in implementing a threat assessment process in your school please contact Michele Henson ( as funding and other resources may be available. 

Threatening or Concerning Behaviors

Many people who are planning to carry out an act of violence display threatening or concerning behaviors that are observable to others prior to the violent incident. This graphic shows the most common threatening or concerning behaviors and the level of concern that the behavior may indicate. Violence prevention is most effective when it occurs early. Don't ignore concerning behaviors that may indicate someone is in distress and in need of assistance.  Click here to download the one-pager on identifying threatening or concerning behaviors.  

Threatening and Concerning Behaviors Wheel637857420530181832


Active Shooter Resources and Support

While highly publicized when they occur, acts of violence in schools are extremely rare. In fact, for the vast majority of children, school is the safest place they will ever go. However, preparing for an active shooter or other form of violence is in everyone's best interest and can create peace of mind for students, caregivers, and school staff. 

For more information, please check out our webpage dedicated to Active Shooter Resources and Support


Guidance Concerning State and Local Responsibilities
Under the Gun-Free Schools Act

Active Shooter Triangle MTSS

MT Seal Black and White

Persistently Dangerous Schools

Pursuant to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the Office of Public Instruction has adopted this operational definition of a "persistently dangerous public elementary school or secondary school", updated on November 5, 2020.