Random Acts of Violence — Really Random?
It may seem a bit off target here to deal with a crime that is outside of the strict definition of “terrorism.” To victims of mass shootings by deranged individuals however, it is as much an act of terrorism as any cause-motivated shooting. This is true whether the act is perpetrated against co-workers or randomly-selected victims as in the case of the Virginia Tech shootings or the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Less workplace violence than expected?
Perhaps surprising is the fact that workplace violence has not appreciably escalated in the past four years, despite the economic downturn and record unemployment.
But more violence in schools
What is noteworthy is the occasional outbreak of violence in public places and around schools — college campuses and more recently, on an elementary school campus.
While it’s true that few people in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado had any opportunity to foresee the events that would unfold that fateful night in the summer of 2012, many people did know or “sense” that something was wrong with James Holmes. And there were warnings about Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech.
Plenty of warnings
Still, most people likely were deterred from doing or saying anything by fear of civil lawsuits or being branded alarmists.
How to defend against this kind of violence?
It starts with co-workers and supervisors in the workplace. In the case of university communities, it starts with fellow students, teachers and administrators in close coordination with appropriate authorities. This is, of course no easy path to even a partial solution.
Education and an atmosphere of open communication without fear of reprisal are admittedly easier talked about than accomplished. They are elusive goals complicated by the fact that every environment is unique and has its own culture and circumstances.
The best advice is to stay tuned in to your surroundings and resist the temptation to ignore the danger signals. If you can’t defend against this violence, know how to respond.
Run, Hide, Fight
The City of Houston, with the assistance of a Homeland Security Grant, created a 4-minute training video on how to survive an active shooter event. You can view “Run, Hide, Fight” here:
CAUTION: This video, although simulated, contains some intense scenes. Prepare any audience, even your CERT or neighborhood team, before using it as training.