Cincinnati Children’s to roll out tool to detect, prevent school violence

Cincinnati Children's added a critical care building.
Cincinnati Children's added a critical care building.(Cincinnati Children's Hospital)
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 12:29 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A new tool designed to detect and prevent school violence is almost ready to roll out.

Cincinnati Children’s said there is a critical need to develop a rapid and accurate approach to assessing high risk characteristics in students.

The new artificial intelligence is said to provide evidence for prevention, and the study is highly innovative. It will be among the first efforts to leverage natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to assess, analyze, and predict violent outcomes.

“These school counselors, their case loads are pretty high, so it’s basically kind of acting as a safety net,” said Alex Osborn, the Clinical Research Coordinator for Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s. “So, we’re teaching those important words that are associated with aggression.”

Edweek Research Center reports nearly half of all schools and district leaders surveyed, 44% or more than 500 educators, said they are now receiving more threats of violence by students than they did in the fall of 2019. 

Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s are working to expedite an accurate approach to interviewing students, assessing risk characteristics, and providing supportive evidence for prevention. They will use the Brief Rating of Aggression by Children And Adolescents to identify negative emotions.

The AI will also place those key words into categories including “negative emotions from the from the patients, any aggression, anything illegal, any family discord, anything like that.”

Even social media becoming buzz words, which Osborn said is a significant factor.

“They want and love and crave attention. And I feel like social media gives them that platform to kind of get that attention through the these, you know, negative antisocial behaviors,” he said.

Osborn said it is taxing for school counselors and mental health professionals to conduct assessments and make decisions in real time so this technology will offer affirmation.

“I think having that support and them feeling supported would kind of give them peace of mind,” he said.

The hospital said their goal is to have the program running by the fall semester.

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