Myths About Workplace Violence

Workplace violence has become an increasingly concerning topic in the American workforce over the past two decades with results ranging from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults to homicide. Safe at Hopkins, an online resource that helps educate staff on workplace violence has outlined four steps to help combat any such threats: Recognize, Prevent, Respond and Refer. Visit Safe at Hopkins to learn more on the spectrum of workplace violence and how you can help prevent these actions.

To help better understand workplace violence, Safe at Hopkins has outlined some common myths about workplace violence which should help you better identify such situations should they arise in the future.

Myth 1: Events happen out of the blue

Not true. As attention to workplace violence has grown over the last two decades, experts have largely agreed that responding to the problem requires more than attention to just a physical attack. Homicide and physical violence are on a continuum that also includes domestic/intimate partner violence, stalking, stated threats, bullying, and disrespectful and inappropriate behaviors. When a violent act is displayed by an employee or someone close to an employee, it is likely that a warning sign reached the workplace beforehand in the form of observable behavior.

Myth 2: Workplace violence always involves weapons and is graphic in nature

Not true. Because of the extensive media attention on violence in the workplace and mass shootings, many people mistakenly believe that these sensational events are the only ones that occur. Quite the opposite is true. The majority of incidents that employees and managers must deal with on a daily basis are lesser cases of assaults, domestic/intimate partner violence, stalking, stated threats, harassment, and physical and emotional abuse.

Myth 3: Workplace violence is rare and wouldn’t happen here

Not true. Since the inception of the Risk Assessment Team at Johns Hopkins, there have been situations of disruptive and potentially threatening behavior reported and assessed as part of our commitment to making the Johns Hopkins community safer. As part of this ongoing effort, we are increasing our education and outreach efforts with the goal of identifying and preventing these behaviors earlier.

Myth 4: Someone else is already taking care of the situation; the situation will resolve itself

Not true. Johns Hopkins is committed to providing a safe, healthy, and secure workplace and an environment free from physical violence, threats, bullying, and intimidation. Because of this, and as part of the response to the concerns surrounding workplace violence, policies and procedures have been established to prevent and intervene in situations that pose the potential for violence. However, a critical component of the success of these policies and procedures is awareness. Awareness + Action = Prevention. A guiding principle of awareness is “if you see something, say something."  If you don’t, maybe no one else will.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }


Catherine September 22, 2014 at 11:40 am

I think it's important to remember that just like "out in society", an incident that is observed in the workplace may be the response to an initiating event. While all people are responsible for their behavior no matter what and threatened and realized violence are never the answer, I'd like to see the less visible instigating types of behaviors be addressed as well. Those less visible behaviors that occur on a daily basis make for just as hostile a workplace. Malicious gossip is a good example of something nobody should be generating or propagating.


Barbara September 18, 2014 at 12:41 pm

It's very sad to feel one is not working with mature people. Most times more than not those people want to be the center of attention.... and will do anything to get the attention. They may not have a clue about what they are doing, since they have been doing this all their lives.
I am happy to hear Hopkins is doing something! It may take some time but Rome was not built in a day. You must start some place.
Sorry for late reply.... had a very busy day onthe 17th of Sept.


Roger Maranan September 17, 2014 at 5:45 pm

I totally agree with you Nancy.


Mary September 17, 2014 at 11:20 am

I'm glad Hopkins is bringing awareness to this problem and I love the informative work shops that have been offered. I wish Hopkins would come up with a list of questions that each employee must answer in front of their coworkers that would force every employee to identify if they are demonstrating bully or intimidation behaviors. I just hope the bullies and intimidators get a clue that they are the problem. They probably aren't reading this information that "doesn't apply to them." haha.
Great for Hopkins to bring awareness and get the conversation started.


Nancy Beatty September 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Mary, Great idea and I support it 100%. Just to add another thought. Maybe each unit could establish a "workplace Violence" team.


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