• Active Defender Staff

Creating Your Own Risk Assessment Matrix

Often in business management has discussions about risk, probability, result. In terms of business the discussions lean more towards new products, new markets and their ability to meet the demand of the market or worse yet, what happens if the market bottoms out half way through their anticipated production run.

Types of Risks and their Severity

Determining the type of risk may seem daunting, so let’s look at a few categories of risk and their severity.

Risk Assessment Matrix

For risks that are inherently frequent with devastating effects it is safe to say that changes in procedure, environment and sometimes in execution must be made. In terms of a school, university or college, this might be:

1) Fighting at school. While this may not seem very likely in light of the recent introduction of anti-bullying campaigns, the threat is very real. The National Center for Education Statistics notes that,

“From July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, there were a total of 38 student, staff, and other non-student school-associated violent deaths in the United States, which included 30 homicides, 7 suicides, and 1 legal intervention death.1”

2) Disruptions to the school day that include but are not limited to: unplanned alarms, death threats, bomb threats and other incidents. The National Center for Education Statistics offers:

“The School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) collected information on incidents that disrupted school activities, such as unplanned fire alarms (i.e., false alarms) and other threats (e.g., death threats, bomb threats, or chemical, biological, or radiological threats). During the 2015–16 school year, 31 percent of public schools reported having at least one incident that disrupted activities at their school, amounting to 50,900 disruptive incidents nationwide. About 40,300 of these disruptions were due to unplanned fire alarms and 10,600 disruptions were due to other threats. Some 26 percent of schools reported that unplanned fire alarms disrupted school activities at least once during the school year. Meanwhile, 8 percent of schools reported that school activities were disrupted at least once by a threat other than a fire alarm.

Some 27 percent of primary schools, 32 percent of middle schools, and 44 percent of high schools reported having at least one disruption. Twenty-three percent of primary schools, 26 percent of middle schools, and 38 percent of high schools reported at least one incident of an unplanned fire alarm. Disruptions from threats aside from fire alarms were reported by 7 percent of primary schools, 9 percent of middle schools, and 15 percent of high schools.

Among schools located in rural areas, 24 percent reported at least one disruption compared with 36 percent of schools in cities and 31 percent of schools in suburbs.”

With just that very little bit of information if I were making a Threat Matrix for my own school, I would likely include the following:

  • Bullying Threats/Actual Incidents

  • Fires (Science Labs/Cafeteria)

  • Intruders Armed or otherwise

  • Weather

  • Mechanical Malfunction

Then I would rate each threat in the likelihood that it would actually happen.  Revisit the chart above to see which risk I have assigned to which frequency.


So let’s analyze what I’ve just done. I’ve assigned Bullying as the highest risk with the most frequency at my school. How do I fix this? What can I do to prevent bullying at school on school grounds and even in the surrounding areas of the school?

First, I need to identify the locations where bullying is likely to occur.

  1. Cafeteria

  2. School Bus

  3. Waiting outside for doors to open

Second, how can I address each item and provide a solution or something that will curb the behavior immediately.

  1. Assigned Seating:  I can assign seating that keeps the trouble makers segregated and away from the general population of students that just want to enjoy their lunch, study or talk with friends.

  2. Assign more teachers to interact with students during lunch and keep an eye on what is going on.

  3. Promote a zero tolerance policy for bullying, meaning let the kids and parents know the plan. Then work the plan. Punishment for bullying must be swift and severe enough that the behavior will be curbed.

  4. For school bus bullying, install cameras inside each bus to record what is happening. The drivers have to pay attention to the road; stopping to curtail something going on in the back of the bus that they may not have even seen is dangerous and they should really be paying attention to the road. So cameras would come in really handy.

  5. Have additional school personnel ride the school buses every morning and afternoon. This is likely not possible as the expense would be over the top for either the school or the bussing company. Parent volunteers?

  6. Assigned seating within the bus is another consideration.

  7. Bullying outside the school in the morning is not frequent but easily curtailed when teachers are posted outside and at the entrances if often enough to stop kids from behaving badly in the morning.

  8. Lines by class are another useful tool especially at elementary schools. Having the kids line up outside during good weather is an easy way to keep them in line and for teachers and administrators to observe anyone messing around where they aren’t supposed to.  During bad weather the kids can line up in the gym. Then everyone is released at once to go to class with their teacher.

Third, follow through with the punishment, whether it is in school suspension, meeting with parents or after school detention. Make sure to follow through and keep an eye on the troublemakers. Perhaps some type of school community service is in order? Cleaning up trash around the school, mopping floors, helping clean the cafeteria? There are many things that a child can help with at school that will perhaps give them further time to consider their ill behavior. Allowing them to write and present a paper about bullying at the next assembly may be a helpful tool as well. 

Clearly you can see the time and thought that must be put into risk assessment.  It’s not a one of type of solution. Each risk is personal for that specific location and solutions have to be addressed on a case by case basis. What works in one area will not work in all areas.

In addition, as seen above risks are only slightly less in suburban schools. This is an interesting fact as I moved to a more suburban area to escape many perceived short comings in the school system we were in. Active Defender can offer multiple solutions for these risks across the board. For instance the bus driver if armed with Active Defender can alert by the touch of a button to his arriving school that there is an issue on the bus and someone should meet the bus before anyone is released to enter the school. Keeping the problem from ever entering the school, thus Active Defense.


Active Defender

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