Violence in the Workplace

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Violence in the Workplace

Susan Roman

SOC 203

Professor Jill Harvan

October 29, 2012

Abstract

Workplace violence is any act or threat of real violence, harassment, intimidation, or any other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at work (Korgen & Furst, 2012). Violence in the workplace acts in the form of threats, physical assault, and even homicide. It affects and involves all employees, clients, customers, and visitors to workplaces. Violence in the workplace is caused by many different stressors in our environment, but preventing violence in the workplace is possible. There are different strategies that can be used to help end violence in the workplace.

Violence in the Workplace

Violence is defined as "the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, or another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation" (Korgen & Furst, 2012). Nearly 2 million Americans report being victims of workplace violence every year, and in 2010, 506 homicides were related to workplace violence (Korgen & Furst, 2012). Violence in the workplace often goes unreported out of fear for more violence. Unfortunately, people are afraid of speaking out as it sometimes makes their attacker become more forceful.

There are many factors that can contribute to creating the violence in the workplace, such as working with people that suffer from mental illness, substance addiction or abuse problems, or volatile and disruptive behavior disorders. Another contributing factor may be working alone, in isolated areas, or in locations with high crime rates. Working in an isolated area or alone can make a person a target for violence because there is no one to witness the violence.

Is Violence in the Workplace a Social Problem?

Violence in the workplace is considered a social problem because it represents a global social pattern from which millions of people worldwide suffer. In the United States alone, violence leads to about 51,000 deaths per year, while globally, violence accounts for about 1.5 million deaths per year (Korgen & Furst, 2012). Violence also creates in injury, psychological trauma, and neglect at every level of society, including those in power. Injuries and trauma of any kind then requires the need of more medical personnel when they could be needed for other accidents.

Because of downsizing, layoffs and mergers, employees are working more hours. Stress levels are at an all-time high among American workers and as they continue to climb, these workers become ready to explode (Korgen & Furst, 2012). It’s almost like these people are walking a tightrope, and when they fall, they fall hard, and often resort to violence. Stress can be the cause of many evils, but when people are over stressed they are more quick to lose their temper and react in ways they may not normally react to situations. Employers being aware of their employees’ stress levels can mean the difference between life or death.

Individual and Social Implications

Employees who are the focus of a violent attack or who witness a violent attack may develop a variety of emotional reactions to the fear and anxiety they experienced (Anonoymous, 2009). A victim of violence will cope, or not cope, with that fear and anxiety in their own way. Some of the more common reactions include depression, withdrawal, increased use of drugs and alcohol, emotional upheaval, and post- traumatic stress syndrome (Anonymous, 2009). These kinds of emotional traumas not only affect employees but also contribute to lower productivity levels, which leads to lost revenue for the organization.

Violence in the workplace also can damage a company’s image in society. People can read reports of violence in particular workplaces and decide not to work...
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