Study: Students Often Don’t Report Suspicious or Threatening Behaviors

Students were more likely to report behaviors if they had a positive relationship with campus police.

Researchers surveyed 1,735 undergraduate students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for the study.

By CS Staff • July 5, 2016

A new study found that the vast majority of college students don’t report suspicious behaviors and other warning signs like stalking, making threats or acquiring weapons.

The study, which analyzed responses to “pathway behaviors” that could lead to safety concerns, also found the intensity of such behaviors didn’t affect students’ likelihood to report them to campus police.

The study was conducted by University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate student Brandon Hollister and Professor Mario Scalor, who surveyed 1,735 undergraduate students.
Overall, the researchers found that students didn’t report 87 percent of pathway behaviors, although students were more likely to report the behavior if they saw it multiple times in separate instances.

A big factor in students’ decision on whether or not to report the behavior was their feelings toward campus police. Students who had positive relationships with campus police were far more likely to report their suspicions, while people with negative relationships with police said they’d fear getting in trouble or betraying their friends.

The researchers say the findings of their study are concerning because most instances of violence on campus come from people who have exhibited warning signs.

“Whether you’re talking about low-level crimes or extreme events, in the vast majority of cases, people close to the perpetrator said there were warning signs,” Scalora told journalstar.com. “They might see an incident as a one-time deal, but there is an escalation to violence and if someone is doing one thing that is problematic, they’re likely doing more.”