Violence in American society is a recurring event. Threats of bodily harm, up to and including murder, are common in the entertainment media and in real life, as the local evening news so amply illustrates. Christians can expect to be exposed to such threats from time to time in the course of their lifetime. In spite of the efforts of researchers, no reliable predictors of violence have been identified. Still, you should be aware of some of the risk factors for violence.
- History of past violence that includes incidents with police, destructive behaviors in a vehicle, military combat, child or spouse abuse, persistent school fighting, etc.
- Loss of a job or economic stability.
- History of recent substance abuse. Alcohol and psychoactive substances are correlated with increased violence and are believed to be major triggers of violent behavior.
- Males overwhelmingly predominate as initiators of violence.
- History of dangerous intentions or thoughts that may include long-lasting grudges, destructive fixed thinking toward other individuals, races or ethnic groups, and self-perceived superiority to circumstances or individuals.
- History of victimization, such as child abuse, spouse abuse, humiliation, rejection, etc.
- Ownership of and/or access to weapons and related items.
- Perceived ability to resolve disrupted relations and disturbed mood or behaviors with violent aggression and the destruction of life.
- Presence of extreme agitation, violent threats, rage and panic, and communicated homicidal intent.
An assessment of the risk of violence should also include such factors as appearance, affect, mood and speech, thought content, obsessive thinking, fantasies, and the individual’s present and recent circumstances. In circumstances of great risk, one should seek immediate help from a professional clinician and refer the case to the police for action.