Bruno Klopfer Award Lecture (1 CE Credit)

MARCH 10 | 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

To be Announced

School Threat Assessment: An Evidence-based Violence Prevention Strategy (1 CE Credit)

Dr. Dewey Cornell | University of Virginia

MARCH 11 | 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Psychologists are increasingly asked to evaluate students who have threatened violence. Traditional risk assessment methods have limited value because of their emphasis on predictive accuracy, which has little practical value when dealing with a specific threat case. In contrast, behavioral threat assessment and intervention is an approach that places more emphasis on assessment for the purpose of identifying interventions that reduce the risk of violence. In recent years, school-based threat assessment has become a widely used violence prevention strategy in U.S. schools. However, threat assessment was developed in law enforcement and must be adapted for use in schools. School threat assessment must advance the educational mission to help all students learn and it must operate from a developmental perspective that recognizes cognitive and social-emotional differences across youth.

The Comprehensive School Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG) was developed at the University of Virginia in 2001 and disseminated through a standard training program and manual. CSTAG training prepares school-based multidisciplinary teams to take a problem-solving approach to violence prevention that involves gathering information, identifying problems or conflicts underlying a student’s threatening behavior, and taking actions to support the student and protect others from harm. The CSTAG model uses a five-step decision tree to distinguish transient threats that are not serious from serious substantive threats that require protective action. In the most serious cases, a mental health professional conducts an assessment to identify needed services to help the student as well as actions to reduce the risk of violence. Clinical interviewing of the threatening individual and corroborating sources is an essential component of the threat assessment process. Personality assessment instruments can help the team formulate an understanding of the student’s risk and protective factors and shape intervention strategies.

The safety and effectiveness of CSTAG has been supported by a series of field tests and controlled studies. One of the important benefits of threat assessment is that it gives schools an alternative to a zero tolerance approach, leading to reductions in the use of school exclusion and law enforcement actions. Furthermore, threat assessment can help reduce racial/ethnic disparities in discipline by prioritizing problem resolution over punishment. Several case examples illustrate the school threat assessment process.

Who are the Game Changers? Why We Need to Study Leadership in Adolescence (1 CE Credit)

Dr. Jennifer Tackett | Northwestern University

MARCH 12 | 10:45 AM - 11:45 AM

Although leadership research has flourished in recent decades, empirical investigations and theoretical advances have focused almost entirely on adults. The lack of focus on leadership in adolescence reflects a substantial gap, because leadership is a process that begins developing early in life.  Many stakeholders (e.g., organizations, parents, policymakers) are highly invested in understanding, predicting, and enhancing leadership abilities early in life. Furthermore, focusing on developmental pathways would extend theories of leadership, especially those pertaining to antecedents of major adult leadership constructs, such as leadership emergence, group effectiveness, and satisfaction with the leader. Thus, devoting theoretical and empirical attention to leadership earlier in the lifespan – and to adolescence, in particular – has a range of important practical and theoretical implications. In this talk, I will outline a potential framework for the empirical study of adolescent leadership that integrates cutting-edge knowledge from the leadership literature with critical insights from developmental science and informs both theory and practice. I will focus on presenting preliminary data (present N~400 adolescent youth) from a study on adolescent leadership—the first of its kind—that aims to lay the groundwork for this new subfield in leadership research.

Goals & Objectives

  • To discuss potential aspects of leadership emergence in children and adolescents.
  • To discuss potential mechanisms by which leadership status is conferred in youth.
  • To introduce potential interventions for early leadership development.

Skill Level 

All junior- and senior-level psychologists are well equipped to engage with this presentation.