Inappropriate humor, aggressive statements and sarcasm
A nervous laugh or laughing at inappropriate times may also be a sign of impending violence. Laughing is a way for the body to shed emotions. In addition, this type of behavior helps to distract adversaries prior to an attack.
Something else to watch for is when a person speaks to others about someone as if they are not present. A student telling others directly in front of his or her adversary, “I am going to hit that guy” is displaying an immediate indicator of violence. Here again, the student is not thinking about words or conversations, he or she is attempting to shed emotion and build confidence. Immediate preventive action must be taken.
The final verbal indicator is the masked statement. This occurs when a student speaks the words that you want to hear, but speaks them in a tone or manner that is deceptive. For example, if you tell students to sit down and they reply, “Oh yeah, I’ll sit down!” in a sarcastic tone, it is a mask for their true intentions. Listen to the tone of a person’s speech.
Consider verbal and nonverbal indicators
Although there is no magic way to determine if students will become violent, observing both their verbal communication and their nonverbal actions and body language will increase your chances of identifying and preventing violence. (For information on nonverbal indicators of violence, click here.)
Also, remember that these indicators apply to students as well as to other people you may encounter. Be aware of your surroundings, hone your violence detection skills and be prepared to act when necessary.
Bret Brooks is a senior instructor with Gray Ram Tactical LLC, a full-time police officer, a SWAT team sniper and a captain in the U.S. Army. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and a Master of Arts in national security, and he has focused numerous studies on terrorism and violence. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.