Prevent 2 Protect and Safe and Sound Schools Conference Brings Information to Others in Work to Prevent Mass Violence


The work to keep Michigan students safe at school will be the focus of the Midwest School Safety Summit in January, bringing together Prevent 2 Protect: The Adolescent Targeted Violence Prevention Project and Safe and Sound Schools in the first joint conference between the two organizations to educate and train others to help identify students who are high risk for targeted violence and provide information on follow up procedures.

The Prevent 2 Protect project is funded by a $15 million appropriation from the Michigan Department of Education and is focused on preventing mass violence by addressing mental health. The project is led by co-directors Alyse Folino Ley, D.O., a child and adolescent psychiatrist with clinical expertise in trauma-related disorders and associate chair of education and research in the Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry, a joint department of the Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and Human Medicine, and Frank Straub, senior director of violence prevention research and programs at Safe and Sound Schools. Safe and Sound Schools is a national nonprofit school safety organization providing research-based tools and support for crisis-prevention, and response and recovery to advance knowledge, policies and practices to prevent targeted violence in schools.

The two-day summit – Jan. 16 and 17 – will bring experts and those working with schools together at the Lansing Center where an educational training toolkit will be rolled out, as well as information to help attendees to learn how to spot warning signs to identify students who are high risk for targeted violence and to learn what to do once those warnings are known.

Dr. Ley and Straub will share the work of the Prevent 2 Protect Program. The program was kicked off in October 2022 with a focus on its pilot project of intensive support teams within five regions of the state of Michigan. The Calhoun County Intermediate School District in southwest Michigan and the Westshore Education School District in the northwest are the first two regions designated as Intensive Support Regions in the program.

High-risk adolescents identified by school Behavioral Threat Assessment and Management (BTAM) teams are referred to the Prevent 2 Protect Hub team. “The Prevent 2 Protect Hub is made up of a team of professionals with extensive experience in law enforcement, mental health and education,” Dr. Ley said. The Hub team provides a comprehensive multidisciplinary assessment and creates an individualized care plan to be implemented in their community.

“The extension of the Prevent 2 Protect Hub is the regional intensive support teams, which provide longitudinal intensive case management, monitoring and mentoring of participants within the community. “This pilot project is aimed at changing the trajectory of the lives of the high-risk adolescents enrolled in the program,” she said.

Dr. Ley hopes to eventually see this cross-systems approach implemented across the U.S. to prevent targeted violence in our school communities.

Students identified as high risk for targeted violence receive case management, systems navigation, monitoring and mentorship from the Intensive Support Teams which are under the direction of the Hub team. “The hope is that schools will not bear the burden alone,” she said.

An advisory board of world-renowned experts in this space are also available for consultation and support of the Hub and communities. “The idea is to engage communities and develop system collaborations to address the needs of the high-risk adolescents in the community,” Dr. Ley said. “If we save one, we may save many.”

Community consultation services are also available to community entities throughout the state. Organizations can request a consult through the Prevent 2 Protect website. The team provides consultation and expert advice regarding a range of topics to assist community efforts in the prevention of school violence. Consultation services are focused on supporting professionals working with adolescents who are at risk of engaging in targeted violence.

Prevent 2 Protect will build upon current research to provide information on best practices, which will be shared through evidence-based educational series and trainings. Prevent 2 Protect has teamed up with the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which is responsible for providing programmatic evaluation.

2024 Midwest School Safety Summit

Presented by: Safe and Sound Schools and Michigan State University’s Prevent 2 Protect Project. Rethinking school safety.

·       National best practices, methods and programs for truly comprehensive school safety.

·       Topics include averted school violence, improving safety and security and mental and behavioral health needs in schools today.

·       Jan. 16 and 17

·       Lansing Center in Lansing, Mich.

·       For more information visit the Prevent 2 Protect website. Register for the summit here.