Thursday, April 19, 2007

Preventing Violence in Higher Education

My readers may be interested in a draft article on preventing violence in higher education--I am one of the co-authors.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anger is not instinctive? I find that surprising.

Then again, I've spent some time around three-year-olds, and when they act out anger, it does kind of come across as an act. Unlike tears or laughter, which seem perfectly spontaneous and natural.

5:05 PM, April 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think they meant that it's the expression of anger that's learned and not instinctive. Everybody feels anger, but our parents and other aspects of our early environment teach us how to behave when we have this feeling. Going berserk is not necessarily the natural thing to do.

I wonder if the behavior you see in children is actually part of their learning self-control. I've seen small ones crying, then they'll appear to calm down, but as soon as they notice someone (usually mom) watching them they start up again. On one hand, you could say they're learning to manipulate people by faking it. Or it could be that they're learning that they don't have to be carried away by an emotion - they can control it to some degree.

I leave it to someone with their own critters to figure this out.

6:15 PM, April 19, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Going berserk is positively a natural thing to do. That's why babies do it. We start training them to control themselves starting at, say, six months or so. At least, people should start training them.

I currently live with my daughter's family and there's two under four. Yes, indeed, they practice. But there are times they lose it and it just has to wear out.

7:20 PM, April 19, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

On the topic of your paper. Good luck. I hope you continue to post updated versions. I have my doubts something truly workable is possible that won't drag in a disproportionate number of false positives. Again, good luck.

7:24 PM, April 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Timely information Dr. H, and I had a few comments on the draft from a law enforcement perspective:

Specific to College/University Safety Plans:

--The approved contingency plan used by the university should include faculty input. Faculty representatives are on the front-line of an active shooter scenario and should serve in the planning, development, and review of the safety plans.

--Faculty should be provided with some type of annual training since they play a pivotal role in implementing parts of a safety plan (locking down a classroom, etc.). The faculty members that I am familiar with have no training in their respective institution's safety plan.

--Environmental concerns should be addressed and modifications made if safety plans are expected to be implemented effectively. For example, one faculty member told me that she teaches in a classroom where the door opens out and does not have a lock on it--certainly not the ideal room to "secure" in case of an emergency.

--Include planning groups for safety that can cast aside biases and innovatively problem solve. The groups should at least consider ideas for improving contingency plans such as upgrading the unarmed campus security to armed campus police (with police certifications from the state), other plans to arm individuals on campus, public address and information systems, security cameras, etc. No cookie-cutter plan should be implemented—each institution should specifically address needs and the implementation of resources.

General comments:

--It would be an interesting study for a researcher to catalog the performance of violent students at universities. Would the research findings support your discussion of students lacking the ability to succeed in a program potentially being the violent ones?

--I would be hesitant to include much information on K-12 school shootings in an article on safety at higher education institutions. Safety plans at K-12 schools can implement more effective lock-down procedures, preemptive security measures, training of staff, etc., that are not possible at the open campuses of colleges and universities. Colleges and Universities have unique assets and liabilities in an active shooter scenario or other emergency situations and require contingency plans that address those specific issues.

6:35 AM, April 20, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


Thanks for the suggestions--there is so much more research and information that we need to help reduce or prevent these violent acts. I just hope that people do not forget and go back to business as usual. I realize these mass shootings are rare, but the toll they take is immense.

7:08 AM, April 20, 2007  
Blogger Purple Avenger said...

Going berserk is not necessarily the natural thing to do.

Among most primates its a common response.

12:13 PM, April 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A nice paper covering many real-life situations in a University. May I offer some suggestions?

Having taught at an Australian university, the issue of senior faculty and administration ducking for cover, when a student issue such as plagiarism, behaviour or grading is raised, is a common occurence everywhere.

Your paper concentrates on the actions of individual faculty and students and the management of an interaction between the same.

You do not appear to address the change mechanisims for a University. My I opine that there needs to be group action to address policies and their application or else it turns into a 'shoot the messenger' scenario and your career disappears. I've been there and I'm happy to be out of it. This is not 'sour grapes' on my part merely a recognition that very little will change from the actions of one person. A section on group formation and presentation may be helpful.

You have addressed some environmental factors in the section: Violence Prevention Measures, pp. 12-14. You don't address the basic issue of modifying buildings designed in a bygone era. I include my earlier post to your article of 1:30 April 16 2007 which addressed students being locked in dorms, an action which I find outrageous, but the issue also applies to faculty offices. The need for another way out when the student is between you and the door you're trapped.

Repeated post: "What I don't understand, from Australia, is why your school/college teaching rooms and dormitories seem to have only one door. Every University Lecture theatre I have taught in had at least two clearly marked exits, usually three, to allow rapid evacuation. It would seem that an external fire escape is neccessary in case of a corridor fire. Surely the most useful measure would be to retro-fit all school and college buildings to allow emergency exits from any room for any situation: fire, bomb threat, shooter, etc..

As for locking students in their rooms, they're simply being trapped by the authorities and made totally vulnerable if the attacker gets through the outer perimeter. This is purely criminal negligence. The students should have been able, and taught, to get clear of the scene.

As the old saying has it:

"Run, run, run away,
live to fight another day."

My thoughts are probably not mainstream but the typical concentration on 'guns good/guns bad' or psychological analyses miss the practical things needed to done to reduce casualties. Creating distance from an attacker is a basic technique. Failing to provide the means for students to do this, and teaching them to stay put, is crminal negligence."

8:38 AM, April 21, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Ian Wilson,

Thanks very much for the suggestions. The paper is but a draft and as we work on it, perhaps we can incorporate more on group action. One of the problems is that universities themselves do not want to take action as they feel it is too "restrictive." That is, if suggestions are made to have a "group policy" such as reporting violent threats, acts or even concerns to a central place in a department, it is met with disdain and accusations such as "you must be working for Karl Rove." This is indeed one comment we got from a reviewer of the paper.

10:34 AM, April 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As campus admin staff, I think the threshold question is what is the best course of action on the ground when it is impossible to commit a deranged person until he or she acts.

We have a paranoid professor that no one will fire because then he will have nothing to do but think about coming back and killing the person who fired him. Can you blame his dean for this reticence? This professor is now in our office all the time harassing my staff, and what I want to know is: how do we train staff members to handle him so that he goes away and goes happy? That seems to be our only choice.

12:18 PM, April 21, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on taking the initiative on this serious matter. This issue ought to be handled by professionals and kept out of the political arena where it will be muddled with unfounded fears and self-serving agendas. In case you are drafted to serve in this panel, I wish you luck!

At the outset it is already being greeted with doubts considering this administration's record on the 9/11, Katrina, Abu Ghraib, CIA/Plame leak investigations. Will this be another smokescreen or diversionary tactic to evade the bigger problems in Iraq, the economy and Justice Department firings? School violence is a very serious problem that is why it is better left to the professionals who have first-hand experience in dealing with the issues.

12:46 PM, April 21, 2007  
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2:32 AM, June 08, 2009  

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