The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)
Sheriff Hood named national youth rep
The National Sheriff’s Association named Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood the National Chairman of its School Safety Committee during its conference in Washington, D.C. recently.
Hood, who developed a school safety program in use in Madison County, is now tasked with helping schools nationwide address challenges that include bullying, school shooting prevention, and e-cigarettes.
“I took over after being nominated by the committee,” Hood said. “We want to bring school safety issues to the forefront. We want to prioritize problems that need fixing.”
Hood’s experience helped him devise a school safety plan that is in use in most school districts in Madison County. The school resource officer program continues to grow. The sheriff’s office recently added three school resource officers and now has a total of 13 SROS in Madison County schools.
Hood also initiated the Madison County Threat assessment council. The council identifies, assesses, and mitigates potential threats to domestic terrorism and other acts of targeted violence.
“School shootings present a high level of concern for school safety, along with drugs and vaping,” he said. “Talk to any superintendent. It’s a top issue, so we developed a whole school safety board in almost every school in county. It’s a huge asset to have everyone safe from evildoers. I attend meetings every few months to stay current on each school. The program has been offered to every school and only one or two are not participating.”
The sheriff’s association has information on its website to help schools stay informed and ready to act. The information is available at www.sheriffs.org/programs/school-safety.
“The sheriff’s association webpage has information on its website inviting people to study advice from its school safety committee. It’s a nice resource for teachers and schools,” Hood said.
The problem of bullying has gained attention over the past several years. Hood believes the best approach is a proactive approach.
“Addressing bullying is monitoring and taking aggressive action, but also educating, intervening, and getting kids’ attention on bullying prevention and getting care for those who have been bullied,” Hood said. “Just one instance of bullying is too much if it’s your kid being bullied.”
The problem of bullying, Hood said, requires a multifaceted approach in prevention.
“It could be a whole host educating they talk about that it is teaching where to go, how to report, how to better understand the child behaving,” he said.
Hood also offered ways to prevent cyberbullying, or online bullying through social media, on a recent Youtube talk.
“While you may not be able to monitor all your child’s activities, there are things you can do to prevent cyberbullying and protect your child from harmful digital behavior,” Hood said. “Monitor a teen’s social media sites, apps, and browsing history. If you have concerns that cyberbullying may be occurring, review or reset your child’s phone location and privacy settings.
“Follow, or friend, your child on social media sites or have another trusted adult do so,” he continued “Stay up to date on the latest apps, social media platforms, and digital slang used by children and teens. Know your child’s username and password for email and social media. Establish rules about appropriate digital behavior, content, and apps.”
Hood said the presence of school resource officers,
who are trained not only in firearms but who act as mentors to students, deter school shootings.
“When you put an SRO in every school you will cut things way down. They know they won’t march into school unmolested. They’ll meet resistance from a trained professional,” he said.
While serving with the Syracuse Police Department, Hood was also a team leader on SWAT detail. He dealt with tactical events like barricade and hostage scenarios.
“I was the team leader person calling shots saddest for the difficult you can get in a lot of trouble if you’re not prepared,” Hood said.
The U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence in a recent study identified 41 incidents of attacks against K-12 schools in the United States from 2008 to 2017. Researchers with the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center found the following:
• There is no single profile of a student attacker, nor is there a profile for the type of school that has been targeted. Attackers varied in age, gender, race, grade level, academic performance, and social status.
• Attackers usually had multiple motives, the most common involving a grievance with classmates. Attackers also had grievances with school staff, romantic relationships, or motives including a desire to kill, suicide, and seeking fame or notoriety.
• Most attackers used firearms, and firearms were most often acquired from the home.
• Most attackers had experienced psychological, behavioral, or developmental symptoms. These included three main categories: psychological, depressive symptoms or suicidal ideation; behavioral, including defiance/misconduct or symptoms of ADD/
ADHD and neurological/ developmental like developmental delays or cognitive deficits.
• Half of the attackers had interests in violent topics including the 1999 Columbine school shooting or Hitler.
• All attackers experienced social stressors involving their relationships with peers or romantic partners:
• Nearly every attacker experienced negative home life factors. These included parental separation or divorce, drug use or criminal charges among family members, and domestic abuse.
• Most attackers were victims of bullying, which was often observed by others.
• Most attackers had a history of school disciplinary actions, and many had prior contact with law enforcement.
• All attackers exhibited concerning behaviors. Most elicited concern from others, and most communicated their intent to attack.
Hood also said he had serious concerns related to the use of e-cigarettes and violence among students.
In a recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine, of 28,135 adolescents, the survey found ecigarette use and sexual violence victimization was 22.7% and 10.8%. Adolescents who experienced sexual violence had 1.52 times higher odds of vaping compared to their counterparts who did not experience sexual violence.
The Journal of Adolescent Health in 2021 reported that among 5,657 students who vaped 1,133 reported adolescent relationship abuse, 775 reported youth violence, 3,157 reported bullying and 132 experienced all three types of violent victimization.
“Confronting vaping is a top priority,” Hood said. “Moving forward we are finding more and more deadly drugs in e-cigarettes. It’s not just nicotine or marijuana put into vaping.
There’s definitely a correlation between violence and vaping.”
Hood warned of the illicit substances in e-cigarettes.
“The problem with all illegal drugs, including e-cigarettes, is you don’t know what’s in them,” he said. “As always if there’s a demand there will be a supply, no matter how dangerous it is to its users.”