Threat assessment

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Threat assessment is the practice of determining the credibility and seriousness of a potential threat, as well as the probability that the threat will become a reality. [1] [2] Threat assessment is separate to the more established practice of violence-risk assessment, which attempts to predict an individual's general capacity and tendency to react to situations violently. Instead, threat assessment aims to interrupt people on a pathway to commit "predatory or instrumental violence, the type of behavior associated with targeted attacks," according to J. Reid Meloy, PhD, co-editor of the International Handbook of Threat Assessment. [3] "Predatory and affective violence are largely distinctive modes of violence." [4]



Threat assessment involves several major components(1-4):

Areas of need

Threat assessment is relevant to many businesses and other venues, including schools. Threat assessment professionals, who include psychologists and law enforcement agents, work to identify and help potential offenders, guiding students to overcome underlying sources of anger, hopelessness or despair. These feelings can increase a student's risk of suicide, alcohol and drug use, physical abuse, dropping out and criminal activity. Threat assessment also applies to risk management. Information security risk managers often perform a threat assessment before developing a plan to mitigate those threats. [5]

Per a Senator King hearing in 2022, a top U.S. military officer was reprimanded by Senator King, the chairman of the committee, because the threat assessment surrounding the Russian conflict with Ukraine was not anywhere near the actual outcome. Senator King commented that additional arms could have been sent by the U.S. government more quickly to aid Ukraine defense if a more reliable assessment would have been performed.

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Broadly speaking, a risk assessment is the combined effort of:

  1. identifying and analyzing potential (future) events that may negatively impact individuals, assets, and/or the environment ; and
  2. making judgments "on the tolerability of the risk on the basis of a risk analysis" while considering influencing factors.
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Psychopathy Checklist Psychopathy scale

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Chris Hatcher, Ph.D., (1946–1999) was a clinical psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was an expert in police and forensic psychology. He dedicated his professional life to the study of violence and its prevention. He died unexpectedly at the age of 52.

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In United States civilian law enforcement, a Threat Management Unit is a police department team that provides criminal and behavioral analysis and risk assessments in an attempt to review, and ultimately mitigate, the potential for violence with an emphasis on prevention. Threat Management Units identify risk factors, patterns of escalation, and construct an environment that inhibits or prevents violence. The services provided cover a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to terrorism, school violence, sexual crimes, stalking, cyber crimes, domestic violence, arson, sabotage, communicated threats, insider threats and pre-attack behavior. Research in this area of law enforcement is known as Threat Safety Science.

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Assessment may refer to:

The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention is an international non-governmental organisation based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with approximately 60 members in North America. Its mission is "to prevent the crime of genocide worldwide through effective early warning and cooperation with victimized peoples to carry out non-violent prevention initiatives." The Sentinel Project was founded in 2008 by two students, Taneem Talukdar and Christopher Tuckwood, at the University of Waterloo. In 2009, the Sentinel Project's approach was selected as a finalist in Google's 10 to the 100th competition for innovative social application of technology. This organization has been recognized as one of four active anti-genocide organizations based in Canada and is a member of the International Alliance to End Genocide, and the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect.

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IT risk management is the application of risk management methods to information technology in order to manage IT risk, i.e.:

The assessment of risk factors for genocide is an upstream mechanism for genocide prevention. The goal is to apply an assessment of risk factors to improve the predictive capability of the international community before the killing begins, and prevent it. There may be many warning signs that a country may be leaning in the direction of a future genocide. If signs are presented, the international community takes notes of them and watches over the countries that have a higher risk. Many different scholars, and international groups, have come up with different factors that they think should be considered while examining whether a nation is at risk or not. One predominant scholar in the field James Waller came up with his own four categories of risk factors: governance, conflict history, economic conditions, and social fragmentation.


  1. "Threat Assessment: Predicting and Preventing School Violence". National Association of School Psychologists . Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  2. "NATIONAL THREAT ASSESSMENT CENTER". United States Secret Service. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  3. International handbook of threat assessment. Meloy, J. Reid., Hoffmann, Jens, 1968-. Oxford. 2014. ISBN   9780199924554. OCLC   855779221.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. "Threat assessment in action". Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  5. "Overview of Threat Risk Assessment". Retrieved 2018-01-18.