In today’s world, violence has entered our schools, our workplace, traffic, and entertainment. Violence is any verbal, physical, or psychological threat or assault on an individual or group that has the intention or results in physical and/or psychological damage. Do you know the warning signs of a potential violent individual? Do you know what behaviors, traits, or actions to look for in a person that may be a possible threat? Does your school or workplace have a plan in place in case of a hostage situation or hostile threat? Having a plan, recognizing the signs and behaviors of violence may save your life.
- make threats
- fascination with weaponry
- unwarranted anger
- shows frequent displays of anger such as clenched fists, tight jaw, etc.
- direct violence at inanimate objects
- portray feelings of being a victim
- show expressions of a plan to hurt
- verbally abusive
- inappropriate sexual comments
- initiate harmful rumors
- consistently argumentative
When a potentially violent individual does the following it is considered a strong threat:
- expresses a desire or intent to harm others
- disobeys policies & procedures openly
- vandalizes or steals property for revenge
- expresses feelings of persecution by others
- sends sexual or violent notes
- acts out anger such as slamming doors, punches walls, etc.
Behaviors, traits, or actions to watch for that may be a possible threat:
- obsessive behavior
- history of discipline problems
- self-destructive behavior
- emotional outbursts
- depression & isolation
- chemical dependency or alcohol
- increased absenteeism
What to avoid when dealing with a threatening individual:
- don’t speak in a condescending way or show apathy
- don’t brush off the individual’s threat
- don’t challenge or dare the individual
- don’t pose in a challenging stance such as arms crossed, fists clenched, etc.
- don’t attempt to bargain
- don’t make false statements
- don’t take sides or agree with distortions
- don’t reject the individual’s demand
Suggestions for threat situations are:
- establish an early warning notification system such as an agreed upon code word or a two way radio announcement
- defer to authorities on scene
- leave the building if safe to do so
- if in a open area, seek shelter in a closed, lockable room, preferably without a window or door
- silence phones
- barricade yourself in room currently occupied or hide under a desk, etc.
- call 911 immediately-do not assume someone has already
- let the individual see your hands in front of you
- back up slowly away from the person, but keep your wits about you and glance at your surroundings so as not to be backed in a corner
The key is safety for all and prevention of harm. It’s up to the people to change the violence of our world and make a plan before things get out of hand.