Is ignorance bliss, or is it?


Every perpetrator of violence in  schools, workplace, and domestic   (SV, WPV, DV) and many other types, forewarned their intent by showing warning signs, which are virtually the same, for a long time, sometimes years. Yet, no one took them seriously. Instead of acting upon them, they made a conscious decision to ignore them. The results of their ignorance of the signs ended up with people dead, wounded, & traumatized.

So how do you know when someone is ready to pop their proverbial cork and lash out at someone? I will not deal with either animal or domestic abuse since that is not my specialty. I can however, give you the warning signs for someone who is likely to commit a WPV or SV incident. No matter what anyone will tell you, the signs are virtually the same for both.

Recognizing the warning signs for these individuals is the best defense you have against something tragic occurring in the hallways or business. In my 26 years of researching, writing, & speaking about WPV/SV, I’ve created a list of 22. 2 or 3 of these signs is not, usually, cause for concern. But if you begin to see 5, 6, 7, or more… These are the most prevalent I have found;

Warning Signs:

Attendance Problems


Continual Excuses

Concentration Problems

Cruelty to Animals

Disciplinary issues

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Fascination with Weapons – especially if it is new

Free Expression

Impact on supervisory/instructor time

Inconsistent Work Habits/Decreased Productivity

Mental Illness

New Religious/Political Fervor

Obsession with Military/Police Tactics

Poor Health and Hygiene

Poor Relationship Skills

Safety Concerns

Serious Stress- both at work and home

Threats both open and veiled

Unshakable Depression

Unusual or Changed Behavior

Violent Music, Movies and Video games


Additionally, as security professionals we run into the idea that co-workers or their friends don’t want to turn them in or ‘tattle’ on them. Here is a short list of the excuses that I’ve collected over the years as well.

You may hear these excuses from anyone close to you. There are plenty of explanations/excuses to go around.  But the main question is what excuse will they use to not tell someone? And please remember that these excuses are couched in the male but just as easily they could be from a female.


  • He was 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/school/individual needs a wake-up call anyway
  • They won’t listen to me

Need I go on and list more? There are more excuses for ignoring these signs than there is space in a short blog post.

Most of these excuses and ignorance of the warning signs comes down to two attitudes. Either they are acted upon or ignore them. Nothing says that even if you do it will stop a serious or deadly incident, but it surely can’t hurt, can it?

The other attitude is simple enough… It Can’t Happen Here, which is the most dangerous that anyone, at any business/school can have, because it ignores the potential danger. Just because you don’t think it can happen where you are, such as earthquakes, or tornadoes, don’t mean they can’t kill you in a split second.

There is also no excuse for anyone to say ‘I didn’t think it could happen here!’ That is the utterances of employees/students/parents from innumerable incidents in the past quarter century that I’ve heard and documented.

They say that ignorance is bliss. However, ignorance is no excuse for ignoring the law if you break it. And if you ignore the warning signs of WPV/SV you could be opening your business or campus up for coverage on FOX, CNN, and your local news outlets, with all of the bad publicity it brings. Then it will be the management/administration who will say “How did this happen?”

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,, or twitter@robertsollars2.

                                           I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear


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