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Access_open A Theoretical Framework to Study Variations in Workplace Violence Experienced by Emergency Responders

Integrating Opportunity and Vulnerability Perspectives

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2016
Keywords Workplace aggression, workplace violence, emergency responders, blaming the victim, victimology
Authors Lisa van Reemst
AbstractAuthor's information

    Emergency responders are often sent to the front line and are often confronted with aggression and violence in interaction with citizens. According to previous studies, some professionals experience more workplace violence than others. In this article, the theoretical framework to study variations in workplace violence against emergency responders is described. According to criminal opportunity theories, which integrate the routine activity theory and lifestyle/exposure theory, victimisation is largely dependent on the lifestyle and routine activities of persons. Situational characteristics that could be related to workplace violence are organisational or task characteristics, such as having more contact with citizens or working at night. However, they do not provide insight in all aspects of influence, and their usefulness to reduce victimisation is limited. Therefore, it is important to consider the role of personal characteristics of the emergency responders that may be more or less ‘attractive’, which is elaborated upon by the victim precipitation theory. Psychological and behavioural characteristics of emergency responders may be relevant to reduce external workplace violence. The author argues that, despite the risk of being considered as blaming the victim, studying characteristics that might prevent victimisation is needed. Directions for future studies about workplace violence are discussed. These future studies should address a combination of victim and situation characteristics, use a longitudinal design and focus on emergency responders. In addition, differences between professions in relationships between characteristics and workplace violence should be explored.


Lisa van Reemst
Lisa van Reemst, M.Sc., is a Ph.D. candidate at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
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