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Safe Havens International seminar helps Southwest Oklahoma schools

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -A national safety expert spoke today at the Great Plains Technology Center to help southwest Oklahoma teachers and law enforcement make schools a safer place.

Michael Dorn, the executive Director of Safe Havens International, led the seminar. It's a non-profit campus safety center that helps with security, climate, culture, and emergency preparedness in schools.

Dorn travels the world planning and evaluating a wide range of school crisis simulations. Today, he went through powerful and hard-hitting videos showing situations like what to do in shootings, proven prevention strategies, and even how someone is able to hide more than 50 weapons on their body.

Michael Dorn, Executive Director of Safe Havens International says although there have been a lot of tragedies over the years, American schools are much safer than they were 30 years ago. 

"We use a variety of scenarios to teach them that there are actually a broad array of emergency situations that we want to try to prevent and make sure our prevention efforts address a wide range of potential threats," said Dorn.

His main points are unexpected outcomes, assessment based safety, proven prevention strategies, proper lock down approaches and body language of school safety. He says there's a lot more things to worry about in schools, than just doing motive based drills.

"There's been a very tragic tendency in this country since the Sandy Hook attack to try to package everything down to a 10 minute video or 1 sheet page of paper using programs that have never been validated as effective that our research has found in many cases, make people less prepared," said Dorn.

Jay Lehr, Principal of Lawton Alternative Schools says shootings, bullying and schools going on lock down are becoming way too regular.

He says he wants to help figure out how to help his school become a safer place. He won't change any policies they have now, but rather pay more attention to body language, suspicious behavior and communicate better with the students.

"Many times, the things we deal with are not so much things that are school problems, they are a result of other problems," said Lehr. "So, anytime we can increase our tool box in seminars like this to help us increase the tools in our tool box to deal with that kind of stuff, it helps us."

Dorn's goal along with the rest of his staff is to have people walk away from his seminar better prepared and knowing how to make their campus safer. He says this hits close to home for him because he was raped in the 2nd grade and severely bullied in high school.

"This is a very personal mission for me, said Dorn. "It has been for 35 years and we're blessed to have 60 people that have that type of connection to what we do. Much of the work of most of our analysts is unpaid. We do a lot of pro bono work around the world as well as in the US and we just don't want children and staff to go through the types of things that I went through and the things that we unfortunately do see still happen in schools globally."

Dorn says they have more than half of a million dollars worth of free training videos and resources on their website.

Along with traveling the world and helping schools be more prepared and safe, Dorn is also the author of 27 books on school safety and emergency management. He's also worked as the Lead Program Manager for the Terrorism Division in the Georgia Office of Homeland Security. 

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