International war and terrorism considerations for U.S. school security, emergency preparedness, and student support services

Posted by on October 11, 2023

The terror attack upon Israel this past weekend sent shockwaves across the world. Many U.S. school communities have strong family and cultural ties to Middle Eastern communities.  Fear, anxiety, and ambiguity runs high in families and communities with personal connections to this conflict, and across the world in general.

As strategic school security leaders, when international crisis incidents occur, we need to ask, “How might this impact our school and community?”

Counseling and communicating with students, staff, and school communities

Students and staff may have personal connections to this crisis with overseas family members in active war areas. They may have family members who serve in our U.S. military who may be on heightened alert. They may be concerned due to news headlines, social media, and other messaging around the international conflict.

The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) recently shared some resources for educators seeking guidance on supporting students, staff, and school communities during times of international war, conflict, and crises.  A few resources include:

Readers may wish to explore these and other resources as appropriate.

Heightened security for U.S. schools during times of terrorism and war

As strategic school security leaders, we also must also think about potential implications for heightened security of U.S. schools: What threats to the security of American schools could occur from international or domestic sources when there are international wars and heightened security concerns?

Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon America, I put together an extensive discussion on our website about Schools & Terrorism: School Terrorism Preparedness.  While some updates can be made to this conversation, this resource has remained relevant over time with its candid examination of U.S. schools and school buses as potential targets of terror.

A terror attack on our schools would be a low-probability but high-impact occurrence.  However, it one that school security, emergency management, and homeland security professionals would be wise to consider on the broad continuum of potential security threats to our schools.  Failure to recognize it as a possibility would be professionally negligent, although overstating the threat and creating unnecessary panic is unwarranted.

We must support school administrators to be better strategic school safety leaders. When international crisis incidents occur asking, “How might this impact our school and community?” is an excellent example of strategic thinking about school security and emergency preparedness.

*Personal note: In 2008, the U.S. Department of State’s Embassy in Tel Aviv asked me to present to Israeli teachers and school administrators in a videoconference on creating safe school environments. At that time, while Israel had strong security measures for their school sites, our nation was offering support to share what lessons we had learned on violence and behavior challenges within the school.  They were very appreciative of the presentation and our dialogue, and I was honored to be invited to share we had experienced and learned.  My prayers today are for the safety of all during these most tense times.

Dr. Kenneth S. Trump is President of National School Safety and Security Services  

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