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October 26, 2020

Roberts' Justice and Security Institute Offers New, Inclusive Approach to Active Shooter Trainings

Innovative method for schools and businesses designed for all ages and abilities

Adding to a roster of targeted violence prevention training and consultation services, Roberts Wesleyan College's Justice and Security Institute (JSI) is now offering a new and inclusive approach to training schools and businesses on best practices in the event of an active shooter. The Observe, Navigate, Escape approach is founded on training individuals to rely on their natural senses during a crisis situation in an effort to minimize negative psychological impacts of these trainings. This multi-hazard approach was designed for all individuals, including individuals with visual, hearing and physical impairments. This JSI exclusive training method consisting of sensory activities can be taught in businesses and school environments to children of all ages.

“Current active shooter drills rely on replicating real-life events by shooting blanks, role playing physical encounters and using weapon replicas to create a stressful situation,” said Joe Testani, director of the JSI at Roberts Wesleyan College. “We’ve learned through research that these drills can cause serious injury and mental trauma by instilling fear, and we recognized that there was an opportunity for Roberts to develop a training program that is less intense, more inclusive and better serves the mental health of all individuals.”

Congress recently authorized $1 million in congressional funding for a study to examine the “possible emotional and behavioral effects on students and staff of active shooter drills, lockdown drills, and other firearm prevention activities in K-12 schools.” The study will identify best practices to minimize negative impacts and train students and staff on what to do in a crisis situation without causing lasting psychological trauma. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, about 95% of U.S. public schools conduct school safety drills annually.

Through the Observe, Navigate, Escape approach, JSI trainers will focus on teaching individuals to use their natural senses — touch, hearing, sight and smell — when a crisis is unfolding. The training will be led by Jason Destein, adjunct trainer for the Justice and Security Institute at Roberts Wesleyan College. Destein developed the approach and has 25 years of industry experience working with Fortune 500 companies and higher education institutions.

“This new approach does not rely on scare tactics or inducing fear, anxiety or trauma,” Destein said. “Instead, it shows individuals how to use their senses to remain calm, observe their surroundings and navigate a safe path to escape a crisis situation. It was important to us that we develop a program that was appropriate for children of all ages and was more inclusive than traditional active shooter trainings to support individuals with visual, hearing or physical impairments.”

The JSI is offering a 45-minute complimentary overview of back-to-school safety awareness and its Targeted Violence prevention and Active Shooter programs to organizations interested in the training. To schedule a complimentary safety awareness overview, contact JSI Director Joseph Testani.

The JSI, which is part of Roberts Wesleyan College’s Community Institutes, provides targeted threat assessment prevention training and consultation services to local and regional businesses and organizations. To learn more about the JSI’s research, consultative and risk-assessment programs, visit the JSI website.

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