6 Common Myths about Workplace Violence

It is very important to be aware of the many risks employees can face in the workplace.  Some people may think to themselves: “There’s no way there could be a shooting here”, or they believe workplace violence only means there’s a serious injury or death involved.  But as we explained in one of our recent blog posts, workplace violence can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical altercations and even homicide. In order to have the rational awareness needed in modern times, you must be aware of all factors that may contribute to a violent act.

Myth #1: “Workplace violence would never happen here.”

Yes, there is a chance your workplace may not come across severe workplace violence incidents.  But having this mindset can create a false sense of security and cause management to ignore potentially dangerous warning signs.

Myth #2: “Workplace violence only involves guns and other weapons.”

As mentioned above, workplace violence can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical altercations and potentially homicide.  Because of the extensive media attention on mass shootings and other extremely violent workplace crimes, many people mistakenly believe that these horrifying events are the only ones that occur.

Myth #3: “He just snapped.”

It’s very rare for violent behavior to happen without any kind of noticeable and potentially dangerous warning signs.  These signs could be strange behaviors, obsessions, ominous statements and threats, the intensifying of a conflict with other employees or higher-ups, and more.

Myth #4: “Security guards will keep us safe.”

The truth is that almost anything can be used as a weapon by someone intending to cause harm to someone.  The ability to commit workplace violence is not dependent upon trying to sneak a gun or other weapon past security.  Also, knowing that there are security guards may cause a potential perpetrator to be more innovative in their measures in order to get past security.

Myth #5: “Only crazy people commit workplace violence.”

Research shows that the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from a mental illness (American Psychiatric Association).  In fact, people with mental illnesses are more often the victims of violent attacks rather than the perpetrators. Most workplace violence incidents are committed by those who would be considered “sane.”

Myth #6: “Workplace violence is caused by outsiders.”

The truth is that workplace violence is a web in which some elements are caused from within and some from external forces. Going along with the “he just snapped” misconception, the potential perpetrators of internal workplace violence usually give off subtle warning signs before they set forth with violent behavior.

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