Pathway to Violence

  1. Ideation
  2. Planning
  3. Preparation
  4. Implementation

The more behavioral warning signs the person exhibits and the further the person has moved along the pathway to violence, the greater the risk that the person will commit an act of violence. There is no simple formula for determining risk of imminent violence. It is also not the role of faculty, staff, or students to assess risk of violence. It is your role to pay attention to warning signs and to report them to appropriate college staff. However, the presence of any of the following key factors suggests that violence may be imminent and you should report the situation immediately:

  • The person has a major unresolved grievance or grudge and sees no alternatives to resolving it except by violence.
  • The person has made communications suggesting ideas or intent to attack.
  • The person has shown inappropriate interest in attacks, attackers, or weapons.
  • The person has engaged in attack-related behaviors, such as developing an attack idea or plan, acquiring weapons, testing access to potential targets, or rehearsing an attack.
  • The person appears to have the means and ability to carry out an attack plan.
  • The person is experiencing hopelessness, desperation, and despair.
  • The person sees violence as the acceptable, desirable, or only way to solve problems.

**This information was drawn from material presented by Gene Deisinger, Ph.D., Associate Director of Public Safety and Deputy Chief of Police, Iowa State University Police Division, at Luther College on October 29, 2008.