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How to Recognize Violent or Threatening Behavior

Violent behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Any physical assault, with or without weapons
  • Behavior that a reasonable person would interpret as being potentially violent, such as throwing things, pounding on a desk or door, or destroying property
  • Specific threats to inflict harm, such as a threat to shoot a named individual
  • Use of any object to intimidate and/or attack another person

Threatening behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Physical actions short of actual physical contact and/or injury, such as moving closer aggressively, waving arms or fists, yelling in an aggressive or threatening manner
  • General oral or written threats (in any medium, including email and social media) to people or property, such as, “You better watch your back” or “I’ll get you” or “I’ll ruin your car”
  • Threats made in a “joking” manner
  • Stalking behavior
  • Implicit threats, such as, “You’ll be sorry” or “This isn’t over yet”

How to Recognize Threats


The significance of any one behavior or circumstance is often difficult to determine. Therefore, the threat assessment process is designed to review the situation in the context of all of the facts that can be known.

If you are aware of a situation that has indicators of concern like the ones listed above, please share what you know with the Tufts Threat Assessment Team by contacting Tufts Police.

How do I know if the behavior warrants a TTAM intervention or if other campus resources are more appropriate to handle it?

You do not have to make this determination; TTAM will do it for you. The most critical step is that you report your concern to Tufts Police, or by email to the TTAM Team.  If another campus resource is more appropriate for the situation, the TTAM will refer the community member and handle the transfer of information. If you believe a threat is imminent, always contact University Police immediately.

Typically, behaviors that pose a potential threat to safety or that cause a significant community disruption to qualify as TTAM referrals.

Even if you are questioning or unsure, it’s always better to talk to someone about a person or situation of concern.

Recognizing and reporting early signs of a potentially dangerous situation is crucial to violence prevention. Your participation is the first step to keeping our campuses safe. Therefore, you should always get in touch with Tufts Police* or TTAM by email.

If you are comfortable doing so, you can also tell the individual who is exhibiting threatening behavior that you are concerned and ask if s/he needs help. If they do, you can refer them to the below list of services for students and employees:

NOTE: Some content used by permission: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.