Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Hollister, B. H., Scalora, M. J., Hoff, S., & Marquez, A. J. (2014). Exposure to pre-incident behavior and reporting in college students. Journal of Threat Assessment and Management, 1(2), 129-143.



Copyright © 2014 American Psychological Association. Used by permission.


Campus targeted violence is preceded by noticeable, alarming behavior, and reporting improvement efforts have been suggested to increase students’ willingness to inform campus authorities of forewarning actions. Reporting improvement techniques have been most successful with material appealing to the perceptions of high-risk students (i.e., those likely to observe and not report). The current study examined the characteristics of students that view threatening behavior and lack willingness to report with a large, Midwestern, undergraduate sample (n 450). Approximately 35% of the sample (i.e., n 157) indicated observing pre-incident behavior on campus, and 65% of these individuals (i.e., n 101) described unwillingness to inform police in the majority of hypothetical threatening situations. Males and students with self-reported delinquency exhibited greater unwillingness to report. Negative feelings toward campus police and high feelings of safety on campus corresponded with unwillingness to report. Students observing pre-incident behavior had more campus connectedness, negative views of campus police, and fewer feelings of safety on campus. Thus, reporting improvement efforts appears highly important to advancing the violence prevention abilities of campus threat assessment teams. Peer education could generate lasting attitudinal and behavioral change for high-risk students. These strategies could involve highly connected student leaders respected by males and students endorsing delinquency and material formatted in a nonconfrontational manner.