White House invites CWRU’s Dan Flannery to address school violence prevention

Dan FlanneryWhen the White House assembled a panel of experts for today’s discussion about preventing school violence, Vice President Joseph Biden made sure Dan Flannery was on it.

Flannery, director of Case Western Reserve University’s Dr. Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education in the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, joins national education and safety experts this afternoon to discuss ways to make schools, universities and community gathering places safer for the public.

The panel discussion comes on the heels of President Barack Obama’s executive order to curb gun violence and Biden’s resulting task force. Flannery was recommended to participate by the Department of Education because of his long-established expertise in violence prevention.

Case Western Reserve’s Begun Center, which is dedicated to research that leads to real, scientifically based violence prevention programs and policies, has generated some of the nation’s top studies on violence, and especially youth violence.

For several decades, Flannery’s work has focused on preventing violence by working with community organizations, law enforcement agencies and mental health providers and conducting research that provides best practices for dealing with people struggling with mental health and social service needs.

Specifically, Flannery will present “Mental Health and Violence Prevention for Schools, Institutions of Higher Education and Communities” as part of a higher education panel—one of three to address emergency management concerns and solutions for schools, colleges and religious houses.

Flannery said he will discuss the role of threat-assessment teams as an example of best practices. He also plans to address such issues as the importance of mental health in risk assessment, and the challenges associated with gathering and sharing information in light of medical patient and student privacy laws..

“I may be advocating for the need to conduct research on successfully averted incidents,” Flannery said while boarding a plane for Washington Tuesday afternoon, “and not just the post-incident psychological autopsying that we do on the mass, spree or rampage shootings.”

Each panel is tied to a tragic event as a stepping-off point for discussion: Columbine High School for the schools (moderated by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan), Virginia Tech for higher education (moderated by FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce), and Oak Creek, Wis., for houses of worship (moderated by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano).

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