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Threat Assessment Research

Student Threat Assessment as a Safe and Supportive Prevention Strategy

We have two bodies of research on threat assessment. This page describes our federally funded project to study threat assessment in Virginia public schools. Schools in Virginia can use any threat assessment model that generally conforms to the state requirements. Another page describes our research specifically concerned with the threat assessment model we developed, the Virginia Student Threat Assessment Guidelines.

In 2013, Virginia legislation (in § 22.1-79.4) required that “Each local school board shall adopt policies for the establishment of threat assessment teams, including the assessment of and intervention with students whose behavior may pose a threat to the safety of school staff or students consistent with the model policies developed by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety…” and that “Each division superintendent shall establish, for each school, a threat assessment team that shall include persons with expertise in counseling, instruction, school administration, and law enforcement.” 

In 2014, our research team at the University of Virginia was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to evaluate and improve the implementation of student threat assessment in Virginia public schools. The grant involves several phases carried out over four years. The project began with a series of reports concerning how threat assessment is being implemented across all Virginia public schools.

Our report concerning the 2014-15 school year: click here.

We are currently conducting a study of an online educational program to improve awareness of school safety and the threat assessment process. The program has separate units for students, parents, and teachers, as well as three units for threat assessment team members. For more information, or if your school division is interested in participating in the study, please contact Jennifer Maeng, Ph.D., project director at

This project is supported by Grant #NIJ 2014-CK-BX-0004 awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The project is being carried out in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in our reports are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice or the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

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