Rage: On the Road/In the Air/In Our Schools

It appears that, for lack of a better word, rage is all around us. For instance, since the beginning of the pandemic, Americans have been driving less. So much so that some insurance companies decided to refund premiums to their customers.

However, these insurance companies may have acted too soon. In the first six months of 2021, there was a substantial increase in motor vehicle fatalities.  Even with fewer cars on the road and commuter traffic plummeting, fatalities were up 20 percent.

When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked into the situation, they concluded that:

Drivers that remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failed to wear [their] seat belts and were [more likely to be] driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Further, they reported:

Average driving speed increased, and examples of extreme speeds became more common.

In other words, more people were using bad judgment while driving, showing less concern for fellow drivers, and demonstrating what is commonly known as road rage.

But it’s not just on the highways that we see rage being demonstrated. According to a June 15, 2021, report by the BBC, “airlines have reported about 3,000 cases of unruly passengers to U.S. aviation authorities [in 2021] as bad behavior on flights takes off during the coronavirus pandemic.” Among the incidents reported:

  • About 2,300 involved passengers who refused to wear masks even though airline personnel had told them it was required.

  • About 400 cases involved passengers who deliberately “interfered with the duties of a [flight] crew member.”

  • Scores of incidents were reported where passengers showed unruly or dangerous behavior toward other passengers or airline crew members.

We should note, there have always been cases of unruly passengers and misbehavior onboard airlines. “What’s really news now is the volume that we’re seeing,” says Steve Dickson, head of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Rage in Schools

Before going further there is one more statistic we need to put on the table.  According to the Washington Post, “since the return of spectators to high school sporting events, many young athletes across the country have experienced hate speech . . . abuse, foul language, obscene behavior, [had objects] thrown at them, sexually demeaning comments, as well as racist language.”

As to why this is happening in schools, many teachers and administrators believe it results from months of remote learning, limited or no everyday student interactions, emotional damage, stress at home, and because many students believe they have suffered academically due to the pandemic. The result: When schools reopened, many students started exhibiting forms of rage and acted violently, possibly in an attempt to release emotions.

“The toxic stress of everything going on during the pandemic, it’s building up with kids — and adults. Now that they’re around each other again, they need to relearn how to do school again,” said Christina Conolly, Director of Psychological Services for Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland.

My Take

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this situation. Here is my take and what all of this rage means, why it is happening, and what it means when it comes to corporate security and risk assessments:

  1. We are entering year three of the pandemic and are realizing it is taking a major toll on our mental state.

  2. The division and political polarization in the country are causing horrific damage.

  3. Prolific and out of control gun ownership.

  4. The escalating use of social media to propagate conspiracy theories, and all too often, outright lies.

  5. “Cooped up” conditions in large cities. (See point one)

  6. Unsolved and increasing homelessness throughout the country.

  7. Economic divide growing between the haves and have nots. As of August 2021, it is estimated that the top 10 percent of the richest people in this country now own 70 percent of the wealth in the U.S.

We see all of these factors, which now must be calculated into professionally conducted risk assessments, contributing to the issues discussed.  Further, they are also behind the general lawlessness in our country.

Johnathan Tal is Chief Executive Officer of TAL Global Corporation, an international investigative and security-consulting firm.  He served as a Military Field Intelligence Officer for the Israeli Armed Forces during the 1970s.  As an intelligence specialist, Tal supervised and initiated behind-enemy-lines intelligence gathering relying on both hardware systems and personnel.  Tal has also served as an anti-terrorism security specialist.  He is a licensed investigator, former President of World Association of Detectives (2000-2001) and holds a Bachelor of Science degree.  He can be reached through his company website at www.talglobal.com

© TAL Global, 2019