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Identifying Threatening, Disruptive, and Annoying Behaviors

Students engage in a variety of behaviors from obvious and direct threats to clear violations of law or policy to simple annoyances. Some behaviors may simply be physical manifestations of a condition, and do not pose an actual threat. It is important to understand what types of behaviors to refer to HEAT and to Student Conduct so that an appropriate investigation and analysis can occur. Often behaviors may not be deemed to constitute a credible threat of physical violence, but may still warrant an intervention as a proactive measure before a person turns to violence. In order to assist the campus in learning how to recognize indicators and respond/refer appropriately, the following categories and examples are provided as guidance:

Possibly Threatening Behaviors

The first category of behaviors or indicators consists of those that may indicate possible immediate or future violence and should be assessed by someone with appropriate training/experience.  It is important to note that these behaviors or indicators may also be disruptive and may also make us feel uncomfortable, similar to the other categories described later. Threatening behaviors are those that reference or indicate violence towards self or others (either directly or indirectly). Examples of these kinds of behaviors include:

  • Threats of harm to self or others
  • Endorsement of violence or discussion of engaging in it
  • Acts of aggression or physical confrontation
  • Discussion of weapons as solutions
  • Harassing or stalking behavior
  • Sudden drastic changes in life or personality
  • Articulation of depression, despair, or hopelessness
  • Escalating unmanaged health conditions
  • Excessive anger, frustration, or inability to cope
  • Appears out of touch with reality

Disruptive Behaviors

The second category of behaviors or indicators includes those that significantly affect the classroom, office, or general campus environment but may not necessarily appear to be a threat.  Some of these behaviors may still warrant contacting the police. These also often evoke an emotional response in others. Examples of these kinds of behaviors include:

  • Yelling or being excessively loud
  • Interrupting/not waiting for responses, or refusing to leave/cooperate
  • Being under the influence of substances
  • Destructive towards property
  • Interacting with an office to impede significant amounts of work from being completed
  • Hygiene concerns that severely impact others

Annoying Behaviors / Behaviors Causing Discomfort

Finally, there are behaviors or indicators that may not be disruptive or concerning, but may still create discomfort in others. These behaviors can include physical manifestations of mental and psychological conditions, as well as behaviors that may simply be different among individuals. Examples include:

  • Staring
  • Not picking up on social cues
  • Standing within personal space boundaries
  • Contacting an office multiple times
  • Exhibiting disrespect or rude attitude
  • Suggesting litigation or involving parents or a supervisor 

Developed by Laura Bennett Last Revised August 2014