January 10, 2019

ignorance is bliss…or is it?

Every perpetrator of violence…anywhere, forewarned their intent by showing warning signs, which are virtually the same, no matter where the violence occurs, for a long time, sometimes years. Yet, no one takes them seriously. Instead of acting upon them, they make a conscious decision to ignore them. The results of their ignorance of the signs ended up with people dead, wounded, & psychologically traumatized.

So, how do you know when someone is ready to pop their proverbial cork and lash out at someone? However, I can give you the warning signs for someone who is likely to commit a WPV or SV incident. No matter what anyone will tell you, the signs are virtually the same for both.

Recognizing the warning signs for these individuals is the best defense you have against something tragic occurring. In my 27 years of researching, writing, & speaking about WPV/SV, I’ve created a list of 22. 2 or 3 of these signs is not, usually, cause for concern. But if you begin to see 5, 6, 7, or more… These are the most prevalent I have found;

Warning Signs:

  • Attendance Problems * Bullying
  • Continual Excuses * Concentration Problems
  • Cruelty to Animals * Disciplinary issues
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse * Fascination with Weapons – especially if it is new
  • Free Expression * Impact on supervisory/instructor time
  • Inconsistent Work Habits/Decreased Productivity
  • Mental Illness * New Religious/Political Fervor
  • Obsession with Military/Police Tactics
  • Poor Health and Hygiene * Poor Relationship Skills
  • Safety Concerns *                 Serious Stress- both at work and home
  • Threats both open and veiled
  • Unshakable Depression * Unusual or Changed Behavior
  • Violent Music, Movies and Video games


Additionally, as security professionals we run into the idea that co-workers or their friends don’t want to turn them in or ‘tattle’ on them. Here is a short list of the excuses that I’ve collected over the years.

You may hear these excuses from anyone and there are plenty of explanations/excuses to go around.  But the main question is which one will they use to not tell someone? And please remember that these excuses are couched in the male but just as easily they could be from a female.


  • He was just going through a tough time
  • He’ll come out of it
  • He’s not that kind
  • He would never do something like that
  • He’s not capable of doing that
  • He’s got problems, who doesn’t?
  • I don’t want to get him in trouble
  • I don’t want to get involved
  • It’s not my problem
  • Why should I care what happens to him?
  • I hate this place, why should I warn them?
  • This company/school/individual needs a wake-up call anyway
  • They won’t listen to me

Need I go on and list more? There are more excuses for ignoring these signs than there is space in a short blog post.

Most of these excuses and ignorance of the warning signs comes down to two attitudes. Either they are acted upon or ignored. Even if you do say something, it will not stop a serious or deadly incident, but it surely can’t hurt, can it?

The other attitude is simple enough… It Can’t Happen Here, which is the most dangerous that anyone, at any organization can have, because it ignores the potential danger. Just because you don’t think it can happen where you are, such as earthquakes, or tornadoes, doesn’t mean they can’t kill you in a split second.

There is also no excuse for anyone to say ‘I didn’t think it could happen here!’ That are the utterances of everyone involved in the incident, from innumerable incidents in the past quarter century that I’ve heard and documented.

They say that ignorance is bliss. However, ignorance is no excuse for ignoring the law if you break it. And if you ignore the warning signs of WPV/SV you could be opening your organization up for coverage on FOX, CNN, and your local news outlets, with all of the bad publicity it brings. Then it will be the management/administration who will say “How did this happen?”

Robert D. Sollars helps organizations to safeguard the lives of their employees and students and lessen their risk of violence, as well as with other security–related issues, using time–tested and proven ideas.

Website: www.robertdsollars.com

Twitter: twitter@robertsollars2

Facebook: Facebook.com/robertdsollars

Email: robertsollars2@gmail.com

Phone: 480-251-5197

He is the author of three books on preventing violence in both schools and businesses, all available on Amazon.

His book–related website, with full information on his most recent book, Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention, is: http://www.dldbooks.com/robertdsollars/

I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear


Permission to reprint and share? Of course, with these guidelines: The original content must be printed in full, with original wording and full attribution.

Copyright 2019 Robert D. Sollars

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