Published: Jan. 12, 2024
Students working on laptops and tablets

The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV) is making it easier for CU students, faculty and staff members to access its Warning Signs for Violence and Strategies for Upstander Reporting course through a SkillSoft course that launched online this fall.

The course, which covers topics such as how to recognize concerning behavior and create a culture that is supportive of upstander reporting, includes scenarios that help participants put their knowledge into practice. The virtual, text-based course takes about 35 to 40 minutes to complete.

Concerning behaviors can include escalating anger, unmanaged depression or isolation, changes in appearance, aggression, talk of being bullied and suicidal ideation or self-harm.

Sarah Goodrum, research professor with CSPV, said knowing the warning signs for violence is an important first step. “Recognizing the concerning behaviors that can precede violent attacks can create opportunities for intervention and prevention, if they are also supported by a culture of upstander reporting,” she said. 

Upstanders are people who take steps to report safety-related concerns, and these upstanders’ tips can help avert violence.

A study on averted school violence conducted by the National Policing Institute in 2021 found that in most cases it’s peers who relay the information about a potential attack that prevents violence. Goodrum said one of the goals of the online course is to share knowledge so more people know what these warning signs look like, and how they should relay them to people who can help.

“Just like the warning signs for any other health or wellness issue, such as cancer, heart disease or suicide, we should all know what the warning signs for violence look like and what to do when we see them,” Goodrum said, adding, “We need to know the signs and then report them to people who can help.”

How to access the course

  1. Log in to your portal (MyCUInfo or BuffPortal).
  2. Click on the SkillSoft tile, or search for it in BuffPortal if it is not saved to your homepage.
  3. In the Search Content text box in the upper right, type “CU: Warning Signs for Violence and Strategies for Upstander Reporting” and click the spyglass search button. 
  4. Then, click on the launch button to the right of the course in the results list.

The online course points to available resources, which include Colorado’s Safe2Tell tip line (see the CSPV and Don’t Ignore It websites for details). After completing this course, participants should be able to identify the warning signs for violence and methods for reporting safety-related concerns, as well as describe strategies for being an upstander.

The training is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Colorado Department of Public Safety, and builds upon CSPV’s ongoing efforts to enhance the university’s framework for violence prevention with ongoing support from the CU Boulder Police Department. 

Campus confidential support resources

In addition to reporting tools, CU Boulder has confidential support resources for the campus community.

  • CU Boulder’s Student Support and Case Management office connects students with assistance, such as mental health resources, support resources, and intervention for students. If the concern involves an employee, the Behavioral Intervention Team will be made aware. 
  • The Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance is where responsible employees, as mandatory reporters, are required to report information about protected-class discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct.
  • The Office of Victim Assistance offers confidential support, including free trauma-specific counseling services as well as victim advocacy (helping people know their options and get assistance navigating systems), to CU Boulder students, staff and faculty who have experienced traumatic events, including but not limited to crime, abuse, violence, harassment, stalking, discrimination and more.
  • Counseling and Psychiatric Services offers confidential, on-campus mental health and psychiatric services for a variety of concerns such as academics, anxiety, body image, depression, relationships, substance use and more. This office serves CU Boulder students.
  • The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program offers confidential counseling to serve the emotional and psychological needs of CU Boulder employees. All FSAP staff are trained as generalist counselors and are equipped to deal with a wide range of mental health, personal and work-related issues. You must be a CU Boulder employee to use FSAP services.