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Red flags: How Moline police and school officials are working to catch signs of school violence before it happens

The program is designed to help counselors, students, and other community members notice the signs that can lead to school violence.

MOLINE, Ill. — The Moline-Coal Valley School District partnered with the Moline police department in an attempt to bring awareness to school shootings and the red flags they show.

“The Moline Police Department has been working diligently over the summer with the Moline School District. In light of all the uptick in gun violence, on continuing to enhance security at the school district.," said Moline Police Chief Darren Gault. "After the Sandy Hook tragedy, a lot of research was done and they found that four out of five school shooters told someone in advance of their plan.” 

That partnership is an effort to encourage community members to come forward when they see any red flags, many of which were heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had students that were struggling before the pandemic, but the pandemic really brought a lot of those feelings out and kids have depression, isolation, anxiety; unsure and uncertain about what's coming next because our world changed so fast," said Superintendent Dr. Rachel Savage. "So we are seeing an uptick in students reporting mental health issues. We have fantastic counselors in every building. We have social workers, we have school psychologists, we have teachers and staff and administrators all working together."

Dr. Savage added that all student counselors have taken part in a new, updated program called the National Youth Mental Health First Aid training. The goal is to provide counselors with this three-day training, and then, counselors will be able to go back to their schools and provide a train-the-trainer model. The program is nationally certified.

“School safety is never done. It's not a plan on a shelf that we never look at. It's something that we talk about all the time, we have certain committees assigned within the school district," said Dr. Savage. "And we have a collaborative working group with the school district leadership and the police department. So we are constantly reviewing, constantly analyzing what's happening in our school and our community, in our state, and adjusting where we can and where we're allowed and able to while still maintaining a positive learning environment for our kids. So it's something that we're constantly focusing on."

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