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Self-protective behaviors and campus threat assessment

Sarah M Hoff, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Extreme acts of targeted violence on postsecondary campuses have prompted many institutions to commit more resources to increasing safety while maintaining an open and creative environment. Investigations after incidents of targeted violence on campuses have identified preincident behaviors, or “red flags,” that were observed before the perpetrator engaged in violence. Threat assessment is a proactive approach to preventing acts of targeted violence that was initially developed by members of the United States Secret Service (USSS), and has since expanded into the context of postsecondary campuses. Research has shown some individuals may engage in self-protective behaviors in order to reduce their risk for personal victimization. The current study utilizing a survey in a sample of undergraduate students examined self-protective behaviors in the context of campus threat assessment. Consistent with prior research, results suggest women report lower feelings of safety and engage in more self-protective behaviors. Approximately one-third of the sample reported observing preincident behaviors, though only 21.5% reported these behaviors to campus police. The most commonly cited reason for not reporting was that a dangerous situation did not appear immediate. Conversely, almost half of the individuals who observed preincident behaviors reported they consulted a friend about the incident.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Hoff, Sarah M, "Self-protective behaviors and campus threat assessment" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3718710.