You Have Heard the Phrase “Violence Prevention,” Is It Really Possible?

Whether it is social violence, school violence, workplace violence or violence due to terrorism, is it possible to actually prevent it?  The word “prevention” is often used in titles but under further investigation we too often learn that it is simply “reacting” to violence, not preventing it. 

What about Threat Assessment, which is a cornerstone to Profiling, can this prevent violence?  It, of course, can prevent violence but how reliable is it?  Threat Assessment, by its definition, is an assessment of an existing threat; you are reacting to a threat, not preventing it!  It is our hope that we can identify lesser threats and thereby prevent greater threats but there is no way to assure that the “lesser threat” will not be a threat to life or limb.

How can we prevent violence?  Only when we isolate “aggressive behavior” specifically and judge it on its merits, we will be able to foresee, engage and prevent any level of emerging aggressive behavior, including violence!  According to the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education’s report on Targeted Violence in Schools, there is a significant difference between “profiling” and foreseeing emerging aggression; their study concluded, “The use of profiles is not effective either for identifying students who may pose a risk for targeted violence at school or – once a student has been identified – for assessing the risk that a particular student may pose for school-based targeted violence.”  It continues with its recommended solution; “An inquiry should focus instead on a student’s behaviors and communications to determine if the student appears to be planning or preparing for an attack.  The ultimate question to answer . . . is whether a student is on a path to a violent attack, and if so, to determine how fast they are moving and where intervention may be possible.”  

Assessing objective, culturally neutral, reflective body language, behavioral and communication indicators of emerging aggression is the only effective means to foresee (“on a path to an violent attack”) and prevent a violent attack.  This is what the Critical Aggression Prevention System (CAPS) achieves through its Meter of Emerging Aggression.  Learn more in this 3-minute CAPS Impact Movie:


  1. james

    Dr.Byrnes–Since over 60% of the nations of the world have undergone non-violent revolution,
    –since everytime nonviolence was tried during World War II, since more and
    –more of us are learning the latest communication skills and how to collaboratively problem-solve, teach our children to be ethical and respectful without hitting them
    –and because kids in preschool are being taught non-violent communication, negotiation and problem-solving and mediation (Mediation at a young age means a skilled adult has to guide the mediation and be a mediator him/herself)
    –and certainly because of training from people such as yourself,
    Things are getting better. I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. Facts and statistics bear me out.
    More and more global citizens are feeling the ground shifting underneath their feet without their awareness or their assent.

    I thank and respect you for what you are doing in my lifetime !!!

  2. John D. Byrnes

    Thank you, James.  Although it is true that those who focus on more non-violent ways to communicate will certainly make their world a better place; it is our hope that through a better understanding of our Aggression Continuum, people around the world will have a better opportunity to get out in front of aggressive behavior and violence and prevent it.  Moreover, there is aggressive behavior that most people don’t even realize that they are perpetuating. Once they understand the Aggression Continuum, they can prevent these prelude behaviors to aggression and violence.

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