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Targeted Violence on Campus: A Comparison of Exposure and Response to Bias and Otherwise Motivated Potential Pre-incident Behavior on a College Campus

Kyle R Siddoway, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Acts of targeted violence are of great concern to college administrators. Additionally, targeted violence motivated by bias (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc.) is occurring at an increasing rate on campuses across the country. Previous research has identified potential pre-incident behaviors which may serve as indicators that an individual is escalating towards violent action. However, very limited research has been conducted which examines pre-incident behaviors which occur in bias motivated violence or aggression. With an undergraduate population (n = 1342), this study utilized a survey asking about exposure and response to both otherwise and biased motivated potential pre-incident behaviors on a college campus in order to make an initial attempt to compare events with differing motivations, and to provide initial estimates of the prevalence of these bias motivated pre-incident behaviors on a college campus. When compared to a no assault group, individuals who reported that the behaviors escalated to eventual physical or sexual assault witnessed more types of pre-incident behavior, higher numbers of pre-incident behavior, and increased repetitive unwanted contact, stalking behavior, threatening messages, and unwanted sexual advances. When compared to a group who reported non-bias motivation, those reporting behaviors motivated by some form of bias reported increased rates of disparaging, offensive or crude remarks, and threats. When reporters and non-reporters were compared, those who reported indicated witnessing a higher number of pre-incidents behavior. These findings suggest that while rarer than otherwise motivated events, bias motivated pre-incident behaviors occur on campus, can escalate to violent behavior, and are reported at a lower rate. Overall, it was found that increased pre-incident behavior is correlated to heightened risk of violence on campus in both bias and otherwise motivated events. The current study had multiple implications for managing bias motivated pre-incident behavior and improving reporting rates including improved community outreach, implementation of a threat assessment model, and further research to better understand bias motivated behavior on a college campus.

Subject Area

Higher education|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Siddoway, Kyle R, "Targeted Violence on Campus: A Comparison of Exposure and Response to Bias and Otherwise Motivated Potential Pre-incident Behavior on a College Campus" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28650812.