Addressing Threats and Threatening Behavior

Many times, a violent act is preceded by a threat.

The threat may have been explicit or veiled, spoken or unspoken, specific or vague, but it occurred. In other instances, behavior may be observed by others, which might suggest the potential for some type of violent act to occur. Yet in other cases, it may be the off-handed remark or comments made to people close to the individual, which may suggest problematic behavior. Dealing with threats and/or threatening behavior – detecting them, evaluating them, and finding a way to address them – may be the single most important key to preventing violence.

Any workplace violence strategy must include measures to detect, assess, and manage threats and behavior.

Saying that is easier than doing it. It is much easier to deal with a physical assault or homicide than a threat. Normally, there is no doubt that a homicide or assault has been committed; often it is harder to establish that a threat has been made. In addition, the effects of a threat are subjective and subtle, usually there is no physical evidence. Some threats are not criminal and, therefore, not subject to law enforcement intervention and prosecution.