Myths about Workplace Violence
There are several commonly held beliefs about workplace violence, and we recognize that there are many factors that may contribute to a violent act in the workplace. We hope to provide some additional information about the spectrum of workplace violence, what can be done to prevent these behaviors, how to respond when they happen, who to refer to in the event that a situation arises, and recommendations for resources after the event. But first, here are some commonly held myths about workplace violence and the facts behind them.
Myth 1: Events happen out of the blue
Not true. As attention to workplace violence has grown over the last two decades, experts have largely agreed that responding to the problem requires more than attention to just a physical attack. Homicide and physical violence are on a continuum that also includes domestic/intimate partner violence, stalking, stated threats, bullying, and disrespectful and inappropriate behaviors. When a violent act is displayed by an employee or someone close to an employee, it is likely that a warning sign reached the workplace beforehand in the form of observable behavior.
Myth 2: Workplace violence always involves weapons and is graphic in nature
Not true. Because of the extensive media attention on violence in the workplace and mass shootings, many people mistakenly believe that these sensational events are the only ones that occur. Quite the opposite is true. The majority of incidents that employees and managers must deal with on a daily basis are lesser cases of assaults, domestic/intimate partner violence, stalking, stated threats, harassment, and physical and emotional abuse.
Myth 3: Workplace violence is rare and wouldn’t happen here
Not true. Since the inception of the Risk Assessment Team at Johns Hopkins, there have been situations of disruptive and potentially threatening behavior reported and assessed as part of our commitment to making the Johns Hopkins community safer. As part of this ongoing effort, we are increasing our education and outreach efforts with the goal of identifying and preventing these behaviors earlier.
Myth 4: Someone else is already taking care of the situation; the situation will resolve itself
Not true. Johns Hopkins is committed to providing a safe, healthy, and secure workplace and an environment free from physical violence, threats, bullying, and intimidation. Because of this, and as part of the response to the concerns surrounding workplace violence, policies and procedures have been established to prevent and intervene in situations that pose the potential for violence. However, a critical component of the success of these policies and procedures is awareness. Awareness + Action = Prevention. A guiding principle of awareness is “if you see something, say something." If you don’t, maybe no one else will.