A student calls in a bomb threat to her high school. A man throws a lamp at his wife. Environmental protesters publicize their plans to sink a whaling ship. In each of these situations, a team of threat assessment professionals must decide how serious the danger is and how to respond, says Stephen D. Hart, PhD, a threat assessment researcher and psychology professor at Simon Frasier University. With the debut of the Journal of Threat Assessment and Management this spring, police officers, social workers, human resource managers and other threat assessment professionals can turn to a single source for empirically based advice on making such critical calls.
"Threat assessment decisions get made a thousand times a day around the world, and there is a lack of good guidance for the people who make them," says Hart, who began accepting manuscripts in November.
The new journal will provide that guidance by publishing case studies as well as threat assessment research and guidelines. For example, a team of university administrators might submit an article about how they determined the credibility of a particular bomb threat, or a police officer might report on how he prevented a case of domestic abuse from escalating into homicide.
"We can learn a lot from the disasters, but we can learn even more from cases when something went well," Hart says.
Hart will encourage researchers with experience submitting journal articles to team with police officers, human resource professionals and attorneys to write the case studies. He'll also encourage a diverse array of professionals to write high-level reviews — for example, of the changing legal landscape for threat assessment.
With legislators increasingly holding workplaces, universities and police forces accountable for violence prevention, threat assessment is a burgeoning area of research and practice, Hart says. In fact, the journal will have a built-in audience of more than 1,000 subscribers when it launches, thanks to support from threat assessment associations in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States. This diverse pool of readers and potential contributors will help the publication cross professional and political boundaries to make the world a safer place, Hart says.
"This journal isn't just here to advance research, it's putting psychology to use for the public good," he says.
Submit papers to theJournal of Threat Assessment and Management.