Virtually every single time I hear about an incident of workplace or school violence (WPV & SV) there will be a pundit, law enforcement official, psychologist, or someone else telling the media the person just up and snapped with no warning. Let me tell you succinctly, they are absolutely 100% wrong!
I understand why they say that. It’s because they make excellent sound bites and play into the sensational nature of the incident, especially if multiple people are killed or wounded, as we have seen this month (Orlando FL. Tunkhannock, PA. Alexandria, VA. & San Francisco, CA.). But is that being truthful or the event being played up like yellow journalism? Do we need good sound bites or the media to act like Sgt. Joe Friday?
They don’t just snap:
I preface this post with that because I will concisely inform you that there are always warning signs of someone who will perpetrate such an incident. And it doesn’t matter whether they use their fists, pipe wrench, pencils, staplers, knives, firearms, or something else. The warning signs are always there to be seen by anyone.
In the Orlando, FL. Incident June 5 the just snapped theory was overwhelmingly disproven. John Robert Neumann had been fired from his job in April at Fiamma, Inc. entered the unlocked back door, giving thought to security procedures and targeted 13 people… but not the lady who had replaced him. After killing 5 and wounding 7, he added to the death toll by taking his own life, as these perpetrators do in 66% of all fatal incidents. However, what isn’t commonly known is that a temporary worker was succinctly told to get out before he continued his killing spree.
There are innumerable other incidents of WPV and SV where the shooter checked for their victims in the offices, walked past others, looked some in the eyes and stated “I don’t want you”, and other similar incidents that disprove the just snapped and killing anyone in their path theory, as with all the incidents mentioned above.
While it is more sensational to say they opened fire at the lunch room in a mass murder it seldom happens that way. But again, in 95% of all incidents it simply isn’t true, victims are targeted and unfortunately others attempting to shield them get in the way are killed or wounded.
The master key to this is whether or not we act upon or ignore the warning signs. One of my favorite sayings: we can either choose to act upon the warning signs or ignore them. Many people will tell me that I have no clue or that I’m crazy. If they want to call names and ignore me, then… so be it. Until they are in the middle of an incident.
I will continue to insist, to everyone I discuss WPV/SV with that we can choose to either act or ignore the signs. Which way we decide to act could determine someone’s life. In reporting the warning signs there are more than a few ways that block the approach of reporting them.
The biggest one we’ll come across is “I don’t want to get involved”. This can be, quite likely, extremely hazardous if it prevails in the business. While it may be admirable that you don’t want to put your nose into someone else’s business, in this case… And it is unfortunate but the culture of the business might also be encouraging this attitude as well.
Some of the other excuses are below. This is only a partial list of the ones I’ve heard in the past 30 years or so. How many have you heard and even more importantly, how many of these sound an alarm with a problem employee?
- He is just going through a tough time
- He’ll come out of it
- He’s not that kind
- He would never do something like that.
- He’s not capable of doing that.
- He’s got problems, who doesn’t?
- I don’t want to get him in trouble.
- I don’t want to get involved
- It’s not my problem
- Why should I care what happens to him?
- I hate this place, why should I warn them?
- This company needs a wake-up call anyway.
- They won’t listen to me.
Connecting those Dots
There are innumerable people to blame for a WPV/SV incident because they didn’t connect the dots to see the issue. Overall and above that they didn’t warn someone of the potential issue. Not the employees and certainly not students… especially in the lower grades.
Everyone from employees and up needs to know not to dismiss anything that someone brings to them. It may be radical, revolutionary, and weird to do so… but you can’t poo-poo anything, they’ve got to connect those dots together and tell someone that something is potentially afoot.
I do understand that some will cry wolf a few too many times to be credible, but you still have to take their words into consideration. After that it’s all about the extensive clean-up, if it was fatal. Then it’s litigation and potential bankruptcy which helps… no one.
So do you want to be vilified by the media and told you are not compassionate enough for the victims? Just go right on a head and tell them that excuses were made by employees that allowed it to happen. Or even better tell them that the signs were ignored and not acted on. That will satisfy them.
Robert D. Sollars assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of WPV as well as other security/customer service related issues. You can follow him on his Facebook page www.facebook.com/oneistooomany or twitter @robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear