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How Empathy Can Help Prevent Violence in the Workplace and in Schools

This article was originally featured in Security Magazine.

Over the past year, security personnel across a wide swath of sectors have reported that threats are increasing in volume, severity and/or in urgency. And many organizations are trying to figure out how best to handle this spike in threats. For some supervisors and C-suite leadership, their inclination is to immediately fire an employee who had made a threat — taking a zero-tolerance type of approach.

It’s a natural instinct. But, it may actually make things worse. 

Most violent incidents in U.S. workplaces and schools are perpetrated by people in crisis — including people who are actively suicidal or who feel hopeless, such as due to intense stressors or major losses. Simply put, abrupt disciplinary measures may exacerbate their feelings of hopelessness and leave them feeling that violence is the only option they have left. But one little-known tool that can help enhance safety and reduce risk in these situations is empathy.  

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How empathy can help prevent violence in the workplace and in schools

Dr. Marisa Randazzo, Ph.D.