PlusFour Solutions: Guidance through Assessment

Risk Assessment

In times of acute crisis, questions about the safety of a student or others in the home or school environment may be raised. Perhaps allegations have been made or someone has interpreted a remark, story, or drawing as a threat. Many schools have a zero tolerance policy for any form of perceived threat. At such times, an assessment may be required before a student may return to school; a diagnosis and plan of treatment to determine the needs and best course of action for a student may be sought.

Recently, a high school sophomore was referred by her school just before Winter break. Her best friend told a teacher that Susan was cutting on her arm and hiding the results from her parents. Before Susan could return to school, the administration required that she be evaluated for safety.

Susan was not suicidal. While the cuts on her arm were a real cry for help, her parents and the school administrators were provided data from testing and clinical interviews, which led to therapy. Susan was able to return to school after break.

Questions about a student’s behavior relative to suicide or indulging in high risk behaviors may require a professional determination of risk. Within the realm of what is normal for children, adolescents, or young adults, behavior must be placed and understood in its context.

Dr. Newton is a recognized expert in the assessment of risk factors in students. Over the past twelve years he has conducted more than one hundred assessments for schools, and centers in the Bay Area and throughout the Western United States. Accustomed to working with the legal system, schools and families, Dr. Newton assesses risk factors by gathering data from multiple sources and administering state-of-the-art psychological tests. Dr. Newton has received instruction in risk assessment from individuals trained by the FBI and Secret Service.