Max Schachter’s fourteen-year-old son Alex was one of the 17 innocent victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day 2018. Since then, Max has been a safe school advocate, a corporate and governmental advisor, and an inspirational speaker, detailing his journey from anguish to advocacy. He has been interviewed by many local and national media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS.
“My mission is to provide the most current school safety best practices and resources to students, parents, school districts, and law enforcement so that children can learn in a safe environment,” Max said.
To accomplish this goal, Max has been hosting social media threat assessment webinars by national expert Safer Schools Together. This training is ideal for law enforcement officers, SROs, and school staff. In this blog, Guard911® explores this critical social media training class and shares an overview of how Max – a father, speaker, and school safety advocate – is making steady progress to make schools a safe place to learn free from violence.
How the Parkland School Shooting Could Have Been Avoided
Max’s passion for change began the moment he realized he and sixteen other Parkland families would never hug their loved ones again. In March 2018, he started fulfilling his mission by being appointed to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission created by Governor Rick Scott. The Commission investigated the Parkland school shooting to learn what went wrong and make recommendations to the Florida Legislature. The 458-page resulting report, issued January 2019, detailed all the failures and missed opportunities that led up to and including that tragic day.
According to Max, “Upon review of the tragedy, one of the first failures I believe could’ve stopped the shooting was just two months earlier, law enforcement received a highly actionable Instagram tip that the murderer was collecting guns and ‘this might be Columbine in the making.’ Unfortunately, the deputy did not properly follow up on the tip because he was ‘not familiar with social media.’ I believe that if he had received training in social media threat analysis, Alex would still be alive today.”
He continued, “There was a myriad of things that went wrong that day; it was the most preventable mass school shooting in our history. The killer should never have been able to get onto campus or into the building. He should not have been able to shoot my son and other children through the glass in their classroom door. One of the mistakes that could have made a difference was not paying attention to the blatantly advertised threat on social media.”
Law Enforcement & School Staff Social Media Threat Assessment Training
To prevent the next act of targeted school violence, Max is hosting a social media threat analysis webinar, great for law enforcement and school staff. There is a basic class, Basic Social Media Threat Assessment, which is for first-time attendees, held several times per year – the next one is September 17, 2020, from 10 am–5 pm EST. Once the first class is completed, the next step is to take Advanced Social Media Threat Assessment Training, which is held on October 28, 2020, 10 am-5 pm.
In the Basic Social Media Threat Assessment webinar you will learn:
Social Media Threats. This is one of the most common digital threats we assist school districts and law enforcement with. You will leave this training with a better understanding of how to handle such situations!
- A Snapchat post warning of a school shooting
- What are your next steps…?
Current State of Affairs in Social Media: A Safe Schools Perspective
- What we see from a state, national, and North American lens
- How social media continues to impact the safety, culture, and climate of our schools
- How to crowdsource localized and time-relevant social media posts from your school and area
- Current research relating to technology use and its impact on adolescent brains
Application of Digital Threat Assessment Theoretical Foundations
- How the fundamental principles of Behavioral Threat Assessment apply to online digital data
- How to adequately assess whether an individual poses a risk to a target based on information from the online world
- Current best practices for teams dealing with sexting and sextortion related incidents, as well as guidelines around education and awareness
Social Media Platforms – Their Use, Misuse, and Associated Risks
- Detailed overviews of the most popular and least common (but essential) Apps
- Live walkthroughs and hands-on activities
- Snapchat evolution: basics and advanced
- Instagram: hashtags, best practices, and location-based searching
- Vault Apps
- Identifying, responding to, and preventing cyberbullying and online hate
- Impersonation and defamation accounts: best method for removal
- Current best practices for teams dealing with sexting and sextortion related incidents as well as guidelines around education and awareness
Online Verification and Authentication of Images
- Using free online tools to ascertain whether a photo/image is unique or stock
- Exercises that will test your eyes to notice the small details within online photographs/videos
- Screen capturing and documenting online content for both evidentiary and school safety purposes
The Vast Data Landscape from Smartphones, Search Engines, & Social Media
- Tracking capabilities and data stored
- Examining metadata of photographs
- Best practices for documenting and preserving crucial digital data
- Boolean search operators, cache data, and Google alerts
- Don’t use your personal accounts!! Solutions and best practices
- Facebook privacy checkup: implications and fundamentals
- Staff safety: things to know
- Safeguards to protecting yourself and your family’s personal information online
This is a class you do not want to miss! Knowing social media and what to look for is one of the best ways to take a proactive approach to school safety and to safeguard kids. Register today (registration closes two days before the class).
In the Advanced Social Media Threat Assessment Training webinar, law enforcement officers learn how to utilize the power of search engines, username tracking for relevant content, youth investigations, smartphone tracking, photograph metadata, geolocation, privacy, and the online underground world. The depth of learning in this training gives law enforcement officers the tools to get into the worlds and minds of these killers and potentially stop violence before it happens.
Safe Schools for Alex Accomplishments
Max’s Safe Schools for Alex accomplishments and ongoing initiatives will ensure mass shootings are no longer a threat to our nation’s children and school staff.
- February 2020 – Max met with President Trump in the Oval Office for the launch of the new federal school safety website. At this meeting, President Trump announced the creation of the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse & SchoolSafety.gov, as recommended by Max Schachter.
- November 2019 – Max is asked to assist the U. S. Secret Service. He accompanies them on their first nationwide tour to prevent school attacks.
- April 2019 – Max established the Alex Schachter Scholarship Fund to support the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Band and music education nationwide. This initiative has raised $150,000 to date.
- February 2018 – Max helped pass The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act in the Florida Legislature to fix the failures that led to the Parkland massacre.
- February 2018 – Max formed the nonprofit Safe Schools for Alex in memory of his son Alex.
- To learn more, go to Safe Schools for Alex.
Safe Schools for Alex Current Initiatives
School Incident Report: Every K-12 school in Florida is required to report to the Florida Department of Education data on 26 different types of incidents that occur on school grounds (i.e. bullying, fighting, physical attack, threat/intimidation, sexual harassment/assault/battery, drug use/sale, weapons possession, tobacco, trespassing, vandalism, and others). It is Safe Schools for Alex’s hope that by using the information in the School Incident Report, stakeholders will gain the knowledge needed to have productive conversations between schools and their communities to reduced violence on campus.
Mass Casualty Rapid Response Team: Safe Schools For Alex is working to establish a framework that will jump-start the recovery process for the next tragedy and educate the next community about the impending ripple effects that inevitably lead to increased mental health issues.
Safe Schools for Alex Student Chapter: School safety cannot be achieved by state mandates or school administration alone. Safe Schools for Alex is developing a student chapter to give students step-by-step instructions so they can take on the mantle of being safety soldiers in their schools.
The Champions of School Safety Program: brings together school safety thought leaders, experts, and advocates in each of the fifty states for a common purpose of reducing violence in schools.
Mobile Panic Button Apps
During Guard911’s conversation with Max, we also discussed the recent passing of Alyssa’s Law in several states, which mandates mobile panic button alarms to reduce notification and response times in an active intruder or shooter situation.
He agrees that the addition of mobile panic buttons like SchoolGuard® to reduce notification time is critical to saving lives. Max said, “There are countless actions being taken to increase school safety, but they’re being done in pockets here-and-there, and states and school districts are being forced to manage and fund this massive task on their own. Hopefully, Alyssa’s Law will be implemented at the federal level, adding another national program to the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse to help protect our kids.”
Safe Schools for Alex & Guard911
The Guard911 family encourages law enforcement, SROs, and school staff to SIGN UP TODAY for the Basic Social Media Threat Assessment training class on September 17, 2020. To learn more, volunteer, or donate to Safe School for Alex, please go the website: safeschoolsforalex.org.