Publication Details

Harwood, V. (2011). Connecting the dots: Threat assessment, depression and the troubled student. Curriculum Inquiry, 51 (5), 586-609.


On April 18, 2007, a package containing over twenty digital videos arrived at the NBC building in New York city. Within a short time the material had been publicly broadcast, and images of Seung Hui Cho soon appeared on Youtube. Two days earlier the twenty-three year-old university student had been responsible for what has been claimed to be the worst mass shooting in the United States. Just days after the mass shooting, the Governor of Virginia, Timothy M. Kaine convened a review panel that was comprised of nine “nationally recognized individuals” across the disciplines of “law enforcement, security, governmental management, mental health, emergency care, victims’ services, the Virginia court system, and higher education” (Virginia Tech Review Panel, 2007, p. viii). Six months later the panel released the comprehensive Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007: Report of the Review Panel (Virginia Tech Review Panel, 2007). Together with detailed psychological analysis of Cho, the report issued recommendations for threat assessment in higher education institutions. Almost twelve months after the shootings, the Government of Virginia instituted four new laws: ‘Policies addressing suicidal students’; ‘Institutional crisis and emergency management plan: review required’; ‘Violence prevention committee, threat assessment team’; and ‘First warning and emergency notification system required’ §23-9.2:9.9,10,11; 2008, p. 28). Attending to key recommendations made in Mass Shootings at Virginia Tech (2007), the new laws included the mandate that all public higher education institutions in the State of Virginia establish threat assessment teams.



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