What If Your CEO Put You in Charge of Workplace Violence Prevention?

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What If Your CEO Put You in Charge of Workplace Violence Prevention?

Posted on: March 1st, 2021

From all the literature and surveys on the topic of workplace violence, it’s clear that CEOs are truly worried about their organization’s workplace violence prevention capabilities in heading off a potential disgruntled employee active shooter threat or intimate partner violence/domestic violence workplace spillover that results in subsequent negative news coverage.

I bet they worry about whether their capabilities are designed to identify gaps in their efforts, the ability to recognize limitations in their resources, enjoy the ability to anticipate problems, understand how to take corrective measures and whether their policies are proactive or reactive. I bet CEOs worry about whether their own commitment is reflected in their budgets, their resources, their awareness, and their support for training.

So, you are the new Human Resource Professional at your company and your CEO calls you into his office to talk about the workplace violence prevention posture. The CEO is concerned about what’s in the news of late, wants to get a baseline of information to help him understand what his posture actually is. What is your baseline of knowledge? What is your reference point of understanding when the CEO ask you?

  • where are we with respect to our workplace violence prevention posture?
  • do we have a policy that adequately addresses the prohibited conduct and the OSHA 4 Categories of violence?
  • do we have a historical record of the type of incidents and can we track such incidents?
  • what are we doing to assess and evaluate potential at-risk situations and worksites?
  • what topics does the training address and is it providing a noticeable improvement and awareness?
  • are we capable of managing at risk situations?
  • what are the supervisor’s roles in intervention and prevention?

While you might have had some exposure to workplace violence prevention in the past, nothing has prepared you to the scope of this conversation with your CEO. And while the focus is on the HR Professional within your organization, the CEO could be having the same conversation with the plant manager, safety manager, risk manager or shift managers. He will not want to hear only that workplace violence related misconduct were resolved under Zero Tolerance where disciplinary action and ultimately “termination” were the solutions. He wanted to know what strategic role Human Resource was playing. https://www.naterassociates.com/human-resources-huge-role-to-fill/

As the HR Professional you might be familiar with the workplace violence prevention tools, support and guidance provided by the SHRM organization and you want to lead the way in your organization. Admittedly observe that you do not really have the experience or working knowledge to integrate, collaborate, coordinate, and communicate such resources and tools into an organizational response. https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/Pages/Workplace-Violence.aspx

You have mixed emotions, but you take on the initiative by reviewing the SHRM’s Member workplace violence prevention resources and tools on their website. You find it a plethora of valued information and your confidence is emboldened.  

You see the meeting with the CEO as productive and an opportunity to seize the moment to establish a workplace violence prevention program no matter how limited. You are happy to have the CEO’s support. You proceed to acquire the resources needed and acquire the understanding of what workplace prevention entails. You discover  that workplace violence was a lot more than I had thought. It’s feels like a paradigm shift at a needed time in workplace and workforce safety and security. What better time than now to start applying risk mitigation, recognizing potential threats, discovering challenges, and dealing with the opportunities while the interest is high.

                                    You recall an old saying – “strike while the iron is hot”.

Your company is planning to return to work during the Covid-19 transitional period, but you will be operating at reduced workforce levels at your worksites while a major portion of the workforce will continue to work remotely or from their homes until further notice. It is an opportunity to get a lot done.  But a lot is going through your mind knowing that you are in different times calling for different tactics.

This gradual return to the workplace and the definite need to manage work from home and other remote venues mandates proactive thinking in how workplace violence prevention will be managed going forward. While it may not be a major restructuring or design, a diagnosis or assessment will be needed to assess the posture and show how workplace violence prevention gets implemented. It will be important to have a process as the workplace will be facing new threats from the disgruntled workforce returning to the workplace with a variety of emotional and psychological issues.

There will be conflict and opinions directly related to shelter at home, perceptions, restricted movement, post-election emotional fallout and CDC workplace related risk mitigation restrictions and mandates imposing their freedom. It will be a defiant workforce. The difference is with the CEO’s support, you no longer need to worry about resources at your disposal. https://www.naterassociates.com/covid19-return-to-work-risk-mitigation-challenges-and-opportunities/

You see it the time as NOW for your organization to strike while the iron is hot. You want to seize the opportunity to improve your current workplace violence prevention-security posture or may be even roll out something different that will obviously have the CEO’s attention if not support. You recall that OSHA is the authority on the subject from the SHRM website and decide to check it out. https://www.osha.gov/workplace-violence

To help you implement your plans you search for a likely workplace violence prevention consultant, a partner. You figure that it might be a good idea to begin getting the right answers to your many questions. Why wait? Why not begin assessing the situation, addressing the approach? Why not use the time to meet with staff and supervisors to alert them of your organizational intentions with the consultant  present.

When discussing the initiative with staff and managers, you emphasize the importance of being proactive, the need to be empathetic and vigilant in resolving all issues now instead of waiting until there’s a situation that escalates or a surprise active shooter. The ingredients for the prospect of volatility are quite apparent.  You quickly learn that workplaces are in fact veritable lightning rods.

The threats come from a disgruntled current and former employee active shooter and the intimate partner and domestic violence workplace spillover are real and present threats.  You are convinced that both topics are preventable situations with an organizational response. You discover a plethora of resources limiting your excuses. You realize the significant role HR can play in implementing, coordinating and managing the effort.  https://www.osha.gov/workplace-violence

You are interested in addressing both the current and future threats affecting your worksites and day to day threats posed by a disgruntled workforce subjected to CDC (Center for Decease Control) risk mitigation strategies and the OSHA 3900 Document. You anticipate conflict emanating from the CDC risk mitigation strategies that will strain workforce patience and coping skills.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/workplaces-businesses/index.html

You sense a melting pot of personalities, emotions, anxiety, anger, fear, confusion, and politics coming together in a post covid-19 and post-election work environment, issues you will have to deal with. It starts to become clear that there is a paradigm shift the HR professional may have to be prepared to deal with and represent as the organization’s focal point in managing the threat of workplace violence. The approach called for a thoughtful and considerate one. Discipline and “terminations” must not be the immediate or necessary solutions in every case unless you want to increase the unemployment rolls. Mental health will be dominant factor employer consideration

https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/92727-post-covid-19-and-mental-health

As the HR Professional, there are perceptions, impressions, opinions, false flags, misunderstanding and confusion about workplace violence and (school violence) prevention that will need to be rectified. You will need CEO and senior management support in getting their commitment and investment. You must understand the need and importance for applying warning signs, risk factors and contributing factors are prerequisites in any effective workplace violence prevention initiative.

You’ve read enough about potential myths like workplace violence is not preventable, workplace violence won’t happen here or even that background screening will help in identifying the potential insider threat. You want to add perspective.

You diagnose the significant challenge as one of understanding how best to approach workplace violence prevention in this new era. You confirm that not assuming, avoiding convenience and never being expedient (ARC Factor) are key in minimizing risk and managing threats. You caution your CEO and senior managers to avoid common phrases and vernacular. You discourage the CEO against viewing the “Covid-19 Return to Work” as a “new normal” yet, but encourage rather a “transitional interim” towards a stabilized period where Employers and the Workforce can see the light at the end of the tunnel in working together for the future. https://www.naterassociates.com/osha-general-duty-clause-workplace-violence-prevention/

In as much as Employers have a duty and responsibility to provide for a safe and secure workplace (OSHA Duty to Warn Clause) how it is achieved is not only a mandate but also a moral, ethical, and legal obligation. Providing for a safe and secure workplace can be effectively implemented through organizational engagement. You want to be logical, thoughtful, and as comprehensive as possible.

The paradigm shift being considered in this blog will have long-lasting positive benefit to the organization in creating trust, confidence, and respect in the employer’s intentional commitment. Employee perception of disparate treatment will drive the thinking and the behavior that fuels the emotional contagion, rationale, and justification to exact their vengeance.

It will be the role of the Human Resources Professional in alignment with others organizational leaders to create new skillsets in helping the Employer anticipate the challenges by being in position to intervene early. Emphasizing the importance of giving employee reports and complaints credibility that will aid in proper solutions early on and dispelling the notion that management’s only interest is discipline and “termination”.

So where would I suggest you begin as the HR Professional?  Since you probably know enough to get rolling, I would ask you to take a program manager view of how to go about establishing your approach.  One example of “HOW” in creating an effective workplace violence prevention posture is by building management credibility, confidence, and trust through the role of engaged supervisors.  Supervisors will need to become centers of influence that lead by example in being able to recognize the potentially volatile workplace environments, respond to issues and situations and make appropriate decisions. Having the HR Professional’s backing, the ability to manage threats and mitigate risks on the spot will be essential in containing escalation and managing risks.

How?

  • recognizing warning signs, risk factors and contributing situations
  • learning how to manage situations
  • managing one’s behavior in managing the potential hostile workplace
  • discovering what being proactive really means
  • using and relying on organizational resources
  • leading with purpose
  • seizing the moment
  • assessing and evaluating situations on the spot
  • conducting comprehensive worksite specific assessments
  • reporting, advising, and informing all involved

Why a comprehensive worksite assessment in the first place? A comprehensive assessment could very well uncover gaps in the existing violence prevention initiative that could help thwart the next homicidal threat, workplace suicide or intimate partner workplace spillover violence. Gaps may include unintentional consequences of policies, procedures, protocols, access control, visitor management, separations and discipline and new employee screening. Comprehensive takes into consideration the worksite specific nature, policies, plans and procedures, technology, supervision, and training.

During this transitional interim period engaged and involved supervision will be key. Success will be predicated on management’s commitment to empathetic leadership while providing for a safe workplace in addressing inappropriate conduct through root cause analysis.  Treating employees with dignity and respect will take on a different meaning that shows sincerity, care, and concern for their well-being.

Author: Felix P. Nater, CSC Chief Security Consultant, Nater Associates, Ltd. is a retired U.S. Postal Inspector and current security management consultant with over 30 years of experience and expertise. Office: 704-784-0260 / Toll Free: 877-825-8101  https://www.naterassociates.com.

#Covid-19 Return to Work Risk Mitigation Challenges and Opportunities

Posted on: May 13th, 2020

Management must not begin to view the “Covid-19 Return to Work” as a “new normal” yet, but, rather a “transition interim” towards a stabilized period where Employers and the Workforce can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In as much as Employers have a duty and responsibility to provide for a safe and secure workplace (OSHA Duty to Warn Clause) how it is achieved is not a mandate but also a moral, ethical and legal obligation. Providing for a safe and secure workplace can be effectively implemented through organizational engagement.

Whether your business or an organization is a small, midsize or large size Employers having a workplace violence prevention mindset will aid the thinking approaches to managing #Covid19 Return to Work Risk Mitigation Challenges and Opportunities during this “emergence phase”.

Because you may have a different emphasis and approach to workplace violence prevention you may  not understand risk factors as important and may not find contributing factors as relevant as I may. However, both are important in prevention and mitigation. Managing risk during this “emergence phase” will be full of challenges and opportunities.

You are apt to find more frequent outbursts, verbal altercations and acts of defiance in preventing the feared surprise attacker (active shooter). Be prepared for the angry workforce.

Depending on what side of the issues you are on Covid19 Return to Work Risk Mitigation may or may not present challenges or opportunities.  Consider it a “neutral zone” full of opportunity to assess and evaluate what the “new normal” might look like. A time where rules are not clear and new approaches are required.

Will you anticipate the challenge in taking proactive measures in looking for a proper solution or will you have a reactive, dam the torpedoes, full steam ahead attitude and miss potential risk mitigation opportunities?

Is there room for changing old paradigms of thinking and operating while still providing for a safe and secure workplace and contending with other business-security expectations?

How the Covid19 Return Return to Work Risk Mitigation challenges are handled and how opportunities are strategized will depend entirely on empathy, thoughtfulness and effective leadership.  Building new approaches might dictate new ways of encountering business-security decisions, managing risks and preventing escalation of violence to physical acts of violence.

Supervisors may be called upon to lead and give employees the benefit of the doubt. During this “emergence phase” “new normal” will task the Employer’s management and leadership responsibilities:

  • They will need to be responsible and accountable for their actions in not allowing situations to escalate.
  • Engaged supervision involved in anticipating problems, recognizing and responding to warning signs and understanding the impact of business issues on the workforce’s perception of the issues.
  • An organizational mindset may require understanding the significance of owning outcomes in minimizing risks by acknowledging unintentional consequences.

What if scenarios may become more prevalent and relevant in forecasting impact on business decisions and actions.  If you are in Human Resources you might see convenient opportunities in addressing adverse personnel decisions and personnel reduction actions not possible before Covid19 but imaginable  now.  You may find expedient solutions more practical today by the government mandated workplace closings that may include assumptions on downsizings, reorganization or not rehiring employees.

Employee perception of disparate treatment will drive the thinking and the behavior that fuels the emotional contagion, rationale and justification to exact their vengeance.

Supervisors and managers will need to be centers of influence and lead by example in being able to recognize the potentially volatile workplace environments and have the backing and ability to mitigate risks on the spot.

Success will be predicated on management’s commitment to empathetic leadership while providing for a safe workplace in addressing inappropriate conduct through root cause analysis.  Treating employees with dignity and respect will take on a different meaning that shows sincerity, care and concern for their well-being.

If you are the safety or security manager you may find yourselves as “Ambassadors of Change and Influence”.  You might view challenges as new duties and responsibilities in addressing social distancing relating to workforce, customer and vendor interactions; support management decisions in the removal of employee(s) who indicated positive during the infectious decease screening process; and enforcing violations of the workplace violence policy in response to nonviolent volatile acts of violence (verbal outburst, yelling, screaming)  to name a few.

Until such time when “new normal” stability is gained, Covid19 Return to Work may very well be the “new emerging threat”.

Workplace Violence Prevention will require a different mindset that engages with the workforce in finding amicable solutions rather than hasty swift actions to discipline and removal. Containment of emotional reactions will drive the need for management and workforce civility.

Enforcing the Workplace Violence Prevention Policy may take on a more compassionate approach in some incidents by addressing root causes and contributing factors before disciplinary action. In other words management may need to become more transparent in adjudicating workforce discipline.

The “new normal” may require understanding of the unintentional consequences of new policy changes and personnel decisions affecting business and organization reorganizations, consolidation and required learning of new functions. The transition from disgruntled to aggression may become more apparent and a frequent occurrences during these turbulent periods and VUCA concepts (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) may prevail.

Whereas prior to Covid19,  Employers might have been more inclined to act swiftly on the disciplinary and separation process in addressing misconduct and acts of violence, during the “emergence phase”,  prevention and de-escalation may necessitate an empathetic response where appropriate before eventual administrative action is taken.

Because of the workplace turbulence and employee perception of unfair labor disparate treatment there will be a tendency for more frequent emotional outbursts. As such, there will be a need for supervisory training in aspects of workplace violence prevention training that includes defusing conflict, de-escalation,, warning signs, risk factors, contributing factors and issues around managing the potentially volatile workplace environment.

The real challenge awaiting Employers in this “new normal’ will be the employee perception of disparate unfair management decisions masked as Covid19 Pandemic Return to Work Labor Management Employment actions. 

The manifestation of frequent nonviolent acts of defiance and episodes of anger by employees will be a more frequent in response to workforce reactions to disagreeable news. In short, increased tensions will become more apparent as management and workforce resolve perception issues during this “emergence period”.

How will you respond to the Covid19 Return to Work ‘new normal”? Will you be proactive or reactive?

Felix P. Nater, CSC is a security management consultant who helps Employers implement and manage workplace security strategy and policy with an emphasis on workplace violence prevention. He believes that workplace violence prevention is an ongoing process involving  multiple intervention strategies. He derived his experiences and consulting model while working as a Postal Inspector on U.S. Postal Inspection Services’ New York Division Violence Interdiction Team.

Contact Felix P. Nater at 1-877-valu101 or 1-877-825-8101. Visit his website www.naterassociates.com

Cyber-Culture: An Organization Imperative

Posted on: April 7th, 2020

This Guest Blogger edition of the News & Tips to Combat Workplace Violence featuring Dr. Ken Ferguson will focus on the Cyber Security Threat from a Cyber Intrusion Management perspective. The purpose of my Blogs is to introduce correlations between gaps and vulnerabilities in workplace security and the potential threats posed by the disgruntled current worker or former worker whose intent is to get revenge without crossing the line of physical violence. Usually, workplace culture has some role in creating the vulnerability or gap that permits the disgruntled current or former employee and criminal intruder access to sensitive information and systems. While Ken’s initiative is aimed at more than malicious intent, he is certainly concerned with a conversion of the workforce from an intrusion threat to an effective barrier for successful intrusion.

Ken Ferguson and I will agree that no amount of technology, policies or procedures can prevent the malicious intruders from gaining access to sensitive systems and information. A process is mandatory. So, while technology is an important part of information and data protection, “Over-reliance on security technology can actually put an organization at risk because a large percentage of information security breaches are actually the result of faulty human behaviors, rather than hardware or software vulnerabilities” Robert Guba, (Engineering human security), 2008.

So what can organizations do to minimize the Cyber Security threat? Ken Ferguson is going to layout a perspective focused on culture and the human factor in aggressively protecting data and information from unwitting compromise by human errors of omission in creating a process that minimize gaps and reduce vulnerabilities and/or compromises. Sometimes the organization by its very desire to protect sensitive information and systems create voluminous procedures employees do not read and/or are not properly trained. The assumption is that the policy and the procedures are the solution.

In the following overview Ken Ferguson will share his experiences and expertise in articulating how an improved attention to a structured attention and management of cyber intrusion is the next major step in protecting organizations from the intentional threat and the unwitting human error.

“Currently, “people” can be characterized as a potential source of intrusion problem rather than a successful defense element. Successful phishing by hackers for example is one of the more common success channels for cyber intrusion.”

Improved cyber security is the next organization wide advancement needed by many business sectors of society as well as public sector agencies. This attention is comparable to other defining compelling attributes such as safety, reliability, quality, economics, and environmental management. As we know, Cyber-attacks are malicious threats by highly motivated individuals or organizations intent on disruption or criminal actions. The attack mode can be commonplace or extremely sophisticated.

Unlike many problems solvable by coordinated actions, cyber attackers will reconvene and develop new challenges. The implication of this ever present type of threat is that organizations need a constant vigilance against such cyber-attacks….never abandoning cyber attention just because.

The conclusion of Global Nuclear Associates (GNA) is that this vigilance is a “Technology and More” situation needing to involve an organization’s entire workforce trained, motivated, and accountable to be involved in cyber security attention.

This value added end state becomes a defining culture. The integrated attention leading to this end state is summarized as a Functional Cyber Culture (FCC). Cyber intrusion can be a threat to safety, business continuity, and other existential impacts. Transformation into an FCC outcome is described as follows:

Key Attentions of a Cyber-Culture transition. Systematic activity and inclusion of cyber security as an overarching attention and culture of an organization involves attention to a variety of involvements and attributes each of which needs to be addressed rigorously. The following are familiar considerations needing unique attention in cyber space:

PEOPLE. Cyber-Culture involves a new attention by the entire workforce and also assurance that its supply chain shares such a vital attention to cyber security matters. The new involvements and commitments will vary depending on organizational function and individual responsibilities and job descriptions, which may be changed in accordance with cyber attentions and responsibilities. Effective accommodation of a new culture attention involves the persuasion and involvement of individuals to add to and/or change daily work attentions. Any change is difficult for most individuals…transformation into a new culture can be especially difficult since the change is a “quantum leap” in nature involving motivated accountability coupled with the proper skillsets.

Currently, “people” can be characterized as a potential source of intrusion problem rather than a successful defense element. Successful phishing by hackers for example is one of the more common success channels for cyber intrusion.

TECHNOLOGY. Cyber threats are also a matter of technological warfare calling for a defense that also is technological in nature. Related attentions can include vulnerability assessments for a threat spectrum regarding key assets, monitoring of threats, intrusion diagnostics, as well as information management and sharing determinations and technologies.

Organizations need to have the internal capability or vendor arrangements to assure timely and accurate detection of cyber intrusions attempts which can be as frequent as daily. Proper staffing and training that enables timely and accurate analysis and responsive measures needs to be a defining characteristic of critical asset cyber protection.

WORK MANAGEMENT. The leveraging of responsive technologies and an effectively trained and motivated work force achieves successful results only if deployed in comprehensive work management details. This element of cyber attention success is the ultimate manner in which workforce attention is accomplished. Each work process needs to be comprehensive in itself and the collective set of work processes needs to be responding to a spectrum of cyber implications. Work management that procedurally invokes cyber security attentions, content, and related communications will result in doing business that incorporates this concern into an “everyday” attention of the workforce.

Work management and its associated work process need to have the ownership of implementers, clear, concise, comprehensive and commonly understood. Implications involve, for example, job responsibilities that include, planning, and daily operations. decision making, administrative support. Example: a design decision that traditionally included cost, reliability, and safety now needs to be assessed for cyber security implications.

Success in Instilling a Cyber Culture: Attention to Detail. As with most major organizational endeavors, recognition of all that is needed to be done is a first step requirement:

Cyber Infrastructure Implications. The successful approach to an effective cyber-culture involves a confirmation and/or enhancement of features already existent in an organization. These are attributes and functions necessary for carrying forward the three major attentions mentioned above. We refer to these relevant functions as cyber infrastructure. The evaluations involve (1) general effectiveness of each of these ongoing practices and (2) the extent to which these practices properly reflect cyber content.

Some examples of what constitute this infrastructure include:
– Training                                                                                  – Information Sharing
– Policies                                                                                    – Organization Structure, Hiring Practices
– Procedures                                                                             – Enterprise Asset Management
– Communications                                                                  – Procurement
– IT, Risk and Vulnerability Tools                                       – Quality Assurance
– Regulatory Interfacing                                                        – Program Management

Phasing for Success. As with many transition/enhancement actions, a phased approach is proper. Three basic phases will involve: (1) a gap analysis/current condition assessment, resulting in recommendations supportive of people, technology, and work management elements and infrastructure reviews results and then (2) an implementation phase involving prioritized inclusion of phase (1) recommendations.

For cyber culture considerations, a phase three attention is uniquely vital for success. This attention involves assessing and committing to and assuring long term effectiveness of a successful cyber culture. Examples of vigilance of this particular long term vigilance include (1) cognizance of emerging new threats (2) relevant emerging defensive technologies, and (3) awareness of relevant emerging regulations and industry standards.

Teaming for Success. Based on the above systematic approach and proper attention to detail, the following collaboration of skill sets /specialties are needed for effective cyber culture-transformation:

(a) Cognizance of the current organization’s relevant functions and effective cyber treatment
(b) Cyber security assessment tasks and technology
(c) Organization transitioning
(d) Infrastructure specialists
(e) Program management and Integration

Conclusions/Summary. Cyber intrusion is a permanent threat to a wide range of organizations. The challenge is unique but effective approaches can be planned and executed involving a range of attentions. A “Technology and More” approach is needed for effective defense of critical assets. Success is contingent on persistent commitment for the entire workforce, achieved by embedding a cyber culture and assuring its long term sustainability.

Ken Ferguson (ferg2@att.net) is available to discuss in more detail the challenges and successful attention to functional cyber culture readiness of an organization.

 

 

 

Lockdown Drills & Kids: Teaching Lifesaving Skills to Children of All Abilities…

Posted on: April 19th, 2019

As a workplace security consultant specializing in workplace violence prevention, what I do with the Client must create sustainability long after I am gone. Organizational resources must be considered when developing training content. The need to be as realistic must not outweigh the organization’s capabilities to sustain the effort.

School and workplace violence response strategies and tactics are important but at what expense? Should the “training approach” to active shooter be one designed around the means justifies the end or around creating the best retentive value around the execution of thoughtful programming that encourages and promotes quality training objectives?

Should those involved be traumatizing students, staff and workers for the purpose of making training as realistic as possible? According to the research the facts are not clear. In the 25 plus years I have been exposed to workplace violence and workplace violence prevention, it’s been my intentional desire to create training that stimulated learning and motivated retention of the content based on mutually collaborative experiences. The idea is to design training with organizational effectiveness in mind.

A recent “active shooter” drill in Indiana made my skin crawl. As someone who came from a military and law enforcement background, I was horrified to discover that local law enforcement officers told teachers to kneel along a wall while they were shot execution style with plastic bullets trying to demonstrate reality.

This is exactly what happens when corporate leaders and school superintendents fail to involve themselves in the decision-making process while leaving it up to others to decide what’s good for your school or workplace environments. Any role I may play as a security consultant must be predicated on organizational input and desired outcomes.

For example, how may reading this blog have been instructed on management responsibilities, prolonged lockdown issues, special needs and family support preparation considerations and planning related to an active shooter? Probably a few, maybe! You know why? Simply because there is a lack of experience based and knowledge centered training and consulting taking place today more than ever without specific facts.

In my interest to give the active shooter training challenge credibility and perspective, I am always seeking to find professionals with a unique and  thoughtful education and learning methodology that serves to create understanding and responsible actions.

In some instances schools are already described as prison comps by students, teachers and parents as environments that expose students to other risks, say parents who speak under anonymity. I don’t say eliminate the training but rather suggest that such training be thoughtful and deliberate.

This issue of my blog highlights the efforts of Guest Blogger Rachel Tepfer Copeland and her child’s experience during a preschool lock down exercise. You must know that my blogs often attracts direct phone calls from interested readers and concerned victims, witnesses and observers who have value to add, offer support and their services.

Rachel Tepher Copeland a Certified Child Life Specialist struck me as the type of guest blog contributor I desire to collaborate with because of the value and lessons that can be learned from such experiences, if we are to be a part of the solution in supporting the need for quality active shooter and lock down training moving forward.

Such training should not exploit the school or the workplace’s fears. It’s my opinion that active shooter drills marginally, if at all improve safety of teachers, students and workers, while exposing them to mental trauma and physical injury. The decision to bring in local police trainers or to hire the expert consultant should be predicated on past performance, knowledge of content, delivery capability and desired outcomes. There are states like Iowa, Florida and South Carolina and others interested in passing laws requiring these drills in public schools. I agree with the training need but disagree with the mandate for a variety of reasons implied and addressed in this blog.

Here’s Rachel Tepher Copeland and her preshooler’s experience for your information.

Rachel:

One afternoon I went to pick up my son from preschool and he was very obviously shaken and upset. A generally chatty guy, I was concerned when he had a difficult time telling me what had happened.

The most I could gather was that the class had played a strange game where the children had hidden in the dark behind backpacks. Then it dawned on me, it was a lock-down drill. The more questions I asked my son, the more concerned I became. We quickly turned the car around and headed back to speak with the preschool director of the highly vetted private preschool he attended.

After further conversation, I found that my son had become scared, overwhelmed and upset during the drill because he did not know or understand what was happening. He did not feel comfortable hiding with the class in the tight quarters and became upset. In an effort to make him more comfortable, the teachers removed him from the bathroom and placed him, alone, in the darkened classroom.

He was told to hide behind a backpack located right next to the large window and to stay there until someone came back for him. Then the teachers went back inside the bathroom with the other children and locked the door. I was furious. I was heartbroken. But more than anything, I was scared.

As a Certified Child Life Specialist since 2004, my job has always been to talk to children about scary and overwhelming situations and make them easier to understand. Reading books to children is an amazing way to take something terrifying and make it relatable, especially for the very young. Social stories are one of my favorite means of preparing children for difficult situations. I love social stories because they are perfect for children of any ability, as they are a positive, empowering story written in first person language, which encourages and empowers children to learn new difficult skills.

After my son’s horrific experience, I searched everywhere for a book with easy to understand directions that would be appropriate for my son to learn about lock-downs and how to keep himself safe. However, no matter where I looked, I could only find books for much older children.

There was nothing age appropriate or all-encompassing in a social story format. Additionally, all of the resources I found discussed option-based teaching (i.e. run, hide, fight).

While these are sometimes successful options for adults, options-based teaching is neither developmentally appropriate nor feasible for young children or children with special needs.

After searching the market and finding it bare, I decided to write my own book for my son. Originally, I created a single copy of the book I Can Be A Superhero During A Lockdown just for him, however, after another major school shooting occurred only miles from our home, I decided to self-publish it and make it available to anyone who might also find it helpful.

I Can Be A Superhero During A Lockdown is now an Amazon best seller and has been endorsed by several safety organizations, including Safe and Sound Schools and Safe Havens Interventional.

I am proud to have created a resource that helps to decrease anxiety while also teaching children of all developmental abilities how to remain safe. My website, RachelTepferCopeland.com , also provides tips and information for parents and educators about lockdowns.

My son is very proud of the book we have created- in fact the main character is a cartoon replica of him. He no longer has issues during lockdowns and was able to complete a drill successfully without any problems.

Many children, however, are not as lucky. While necessary, lockdown drills themselves cause trauma to young children—the recent viral picture of a child with a goodbye note written on her arm to her parents only one example.

As educators, parents, safety professionals, and professionals that work with children, we need to remember that providing age appropriate and child-friendly information to children about what to expect and how to respond is respectful of children, their feelings and needs.

To ignore the situation, to assume that it is just like other drills that children complete regularly or to compare it to duck and cover drills of more seasoned parents’ youth is not the same.

A recent Washington Post report revealed that during the 2017-2018 school year alone, over 4.1 million children enduring a lock-down drill. Over 220,000 of those children were in pre-school and kindergarten. We have the choice of either preparing our children in advance or dealing with the after affects of the trauma they suffer.

I’ve chosen to preemptively prepare my child and to teach him what to do if he was to ever face a true active situation. We all have a choice to make. We can either sit around and read about the horrific things that are happening in our company and wonder “when are things going to change? When is somebody going to do something about that?!”

Or we can each realize that we ARE somebody. Teaching young children how to keep themselves safe while decreasing anxiety is something that you can do right now. And there’s no day better than the present to make a difference, and maybe even save some lives.

Felix:

It’s my opinion as a workplace security management consultant specializing in workplace violence prevention that students and employees should not be exposed to physical or traumatic injury just to create a training reality. Such training should be tied to the organizational prevention strategy that takes all of the related issues into consideration as life survival immediate protective measures.

They should be designed to educate and prepare those involved to respond appropriately in a way that empowers them to react with a measured sense of command and control of their situation. A dad of a middle schooler told me that his son told him that it made no sense to run back to his classroom when it made more sense to exit through the nearby doors.

 

Recognizing Our Leaders Within The Ranks

Posted on: November 5th, 2014

In this Blog post, I want to deviate from my normal ranting and raving about my magnificent obsession with my workplace violence prevention and security consulting practice and take a moment to promote the essence of a special person who came into our lives just a few short years ago.

We know him as Dan Forbes, Forum Leader of Lead With Giants. I desire to refer to him as a Leader among Giants. I relate to Dan’s intensity and commitment to leadership because my consulting model in founded on the notion of accountable leadership in preventing workplace violence and enhancing workplace security. 

From the beginning, during our initial dialogue, I sensed Dan Forbes had a vision and a destiny as large as his LinkedIn Group Lead with Giants.  But I wanted Dan to share his perspective, tell his story and share his vision so that we might all gain a deeper appreciation for his mindset and how goal oriented he is.  And how purposeful he was in creating a community of leaders who would one day find themselves in a position to uplift others.

 Here is Dan Forbe’s story on My Blog simply because I adore his dedication, fervor and devotion to the community of leadership and his endless energy for helping us achieve our dreams.

The Vision of the Lead With Giants Community is to raise up 10,000 Uplifting Leaders. Meet the Community here http://LeadWithGiants.com  The name for this Community was inspired by the words of Sir Isaac Newton in 1676: “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants.” 

This idea is a perfect metaphor for leadership. We might ask the question, who sees farther the leader or the follower? That is, who is most important? Both are!  We all can learn from the wisdom of the leaders around us and become better leaders ourselves. Due to their leadership we grow wiser and lead better, but not because we are better. We are all in this together.

What Is Uplifting Leadership? There is enough so called “leadership” that disempowers, discourages, and disappoints. On the other hand, Uplifting Leadership is:

inspirational – It moves others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become.

aspirational – It springs from a strong desire to lead and help others grow and develop as leaders too.

– intentional– By design it deliberately focuses on others. For, to lead is to serve; to serve is to lead.

– purposeful – Uplifting leaders are determined to make a positive difference. Epictetus said, “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”

I am a Leadership Coach, Advisor, and Consultant who helps professionals, business owners, and individuals accelerate their success. 

Dan, it has been my esteemed pleasure to interact with you through the Lead With Giants Group. Even when I did not offer any commentary of my own, the breadth and scope of the knowledge were incredible teaching examples proving leaders come in all walks of life and from diverse experiences and expertise.  Thanks for sharing your perspectives and your vision. Carry On My Friend. 

           ~ Learn more about what Dan Forbes does  at http://LeadWithGiantsCoaching.com ~