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Warning Signs of Violence

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  1. Inflexibility: The employee resists change, is rigid and unwilling to discuss ideas contrary to his own.
  2. Weapons: He has obtained a weapon within the last ninety days, or he has a weapons collection, or he makes jokes and frequent comments about weapons, or he discusses weapons as instruments of power or revenge.
  3. SAD: He is sullen, angry or depressed. Chronic anger is an important predictor of more than just violence (i.e., heart attacks) and should never be ignored.
  4. Hopelessness: He has made statements like "What's the use?"; "Nothing ever changes anyway"; "I've got no future." He makes suicidal references or threats, or he makes plans consistent with committing suicide (sells off possessions). Pessimism is an important predictor of problems.
  5. Identification: He identifies with or even praises other perpetrators of workplace violence. He is attracted to violent films, violent books or gruesome news events.
  6. Co-worker Fear: Co-workers are afraid or apprehensive about him (whether or not they can articulate their reasons).
  7. TIME: He has used threats, intimidation, manipulation and/or escalation toward management or co-workers.
  8. Paranoia: He feels others are "out to get" him, that unconnected events are related, that others conspire against him.
  9. Criticism: He reacts adversely to criticism, shows suspicion of those who criticize him, and refuses to consider the merits of any critical observations about his performance or behavior.
  10. Blame: He blames others for the results of his own actions, refuses to accept responsibility.
  11. Crusades: He has undertaken or attached himself to crusades or missions at work.
  12. Unreasonable Expectations: He expects elevation, long-term retention, promotion, an apology, being named the "winner" in some dispute, or being found "right".
  13. Grievance: He has a grievance pending or he has a history of filing unreasonable grievances.
  14. Police Encounters: He has had recent police encounters (including arrests) or he has a history that includes assaultive or behavioral offenses.
  15. Media: There have recently been news stories about workplace violence or other major acts of violence. Press reports on these subjects often stimulate others who identify with the perpetrators and the attention they got for their acts. Like public figure attacks, major incidents of workplace violence tend to come in clusters.
  16. Focus: He has monitored the behavior, activities, performance, or comings and goings of other employees, though it is not his job to do so. He may have stalked someone in or out of the workplace.
  17. Contact: If he was fired, he has instigated and maintained contact with current employees; he refuses to let go and appears more focused on the job he lost than finding other employment.

*Gavin DeBecker, The Gift of Fear, Little, Brown & Co., New York, 1997,p. 151-153



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