Recognizing Threats

The descriptions below will help you understand the types of warning signs that can and should be reported to TTAM. This is not an exhaustive list.


Aggressive behavior includes: 

  • Violent behavior, including but 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, including but not limited to:

  • Physical actions that demonstrate anger, such as moving closer aggressively, waving arms or fists, or yelling in an aggressive or threatening manner; extreme mood swings
  • Verbal abuse, swearing
  • Stalking behavior 

Concerning Behavior

Concerning behavior including but not limited to: 

  • Inappropriate and/or obsessive interest in weapons, violence, or violent acts
  • Talking about getting revenge or wanting someone to suffer/pay for their actions
  • Excessive interest in a particular person or group of people
  • Paranoia 
  • Blocking exits/keeping someone from leaving
  • ANY BEHAVIOR that has caused you or someone to be in fear for anyone’s safety


An individual is known to have access to weapons or inappropriate interest in weapons and has engaged in concerning behavior that would place a reasonable person in fear. 

Threat to Harm 

A threat to harm can either be an explicit (direct, clear and specific) or implied (vague) threat regarding another individual, group, or entity. 

  • Verbal or written threats (by any means: face to face, voicemail, text, social media, email, etc) to people or property to cause injury, pain, or death.
  • Vague examples may be: “You better watch your back;” “I’ll get you for this;” or “You’re going to pay for what you did;” “Give me 1 more reason...” “This isn’t over yet;” or “You’ll /They’ll be sorry.” 
  • Threats made in a “joking” manner


Stalking is defined as engaging in a course of conduct (2 or more acts) directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to

  • Fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or
  • Suffer substantial emotional distress.

Stalking may include repeated unwanted communications meant to frighten and/or alarm; direct or indirect threats; following or surveilling a victim; causing damage or threatening to cause damage to a victim's property; defaming a victim's character; or harassing a victim by posting personal information or rumors either in real life or online.

Understanding Risk Factors

There are many factors and circumstances that can increase the risk for violence. Violence, particularly targeted violence toward a specific victim, is often the result of an interaction of a variety of factors involving the person of concern, target(s), and the environment:

Precipitating events

  1. Subject: The Subject who may take violent action may show:
    • Resistance to change or reasonable limits
    • Extreme or sudden changes in behavior
    • Difficulty learning from past experiences
    • Alienation from others or self-isolation
  2. Target: The vulnerabilities of the Target or victim may:
    • Keep consistent, predictable travel/movement patterns
    • Experience denial in the face of clear threat posed
    • Lack concern for personal safety
  3. Environment: An Environment that facilitates, permits, or does not discourage violence, as evidenced in part by:
    • Chronic or unresolved conflict
    • High perceived levels of stress among community members
  4. Precipitating events: Any Precipitating events that may trigger reactions in the subject:
    • Losses (job/status/relationship)
    • Perceived rejection or injustice
    • Being ostracized by others

Above are examples of behaviors and circumstances that may contribute to the development of concerns. They are meant to help identify opportunities for early intervention to aid in the prevention of violence. These examples are not all-inclusive and this information is not intended to be used as a checklist.

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.

Determining the Need for TTAM Intervention

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 is 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.

    For students

    For employees (faculty and staff)

    Typically, threats, either explicit or implied, or threatening behavior that poses a threat to safety qualify as TTAM referrals.

    Threatening Behaviors

    Watch three videos of threatening behavior scenarios. 

    Student in Distress

    Office Disruption

    Stalking Concerns