Home-Safe Project

The purpose behind this project is to ensure that schoolchildren, employees, and others return safely home. 'HOME' is an acronym that stands for hope, observation, mentoring, and empowerment.

It is frustrating to hear news of a homicide and then hear someone say, "I knew this was going to happen." What was done to prevent the event or to help the perpetrator deal with his or her issues? It may be that sometimes interventions were attempted and yet they failed. Often, however, nothing was done to prevent the tragedy. The HOME-Safe project provides a comprehensive intervention, both early intervention and crisis intervention, which can be applied in a wide variety of contexts and involves multiple segments of a person's environment.


Desperate people do desperate things. We can find hope by looking to the future. In the midst of crisis, people often cannot see any further than the immediate circumstances. Family members and friends can provide hope for desperate people. Family members are at the front line and have the best opportunity to see despair as it is developing. Ensuring the loved one that he or she is not alone and that, together, they can overcome troubling circumstances provides the hope that helps one overcome the emotional turmoil of a crisis.

Formal religious organizations certainly can provide hope to desperate people. Ministers and lay persons can provide hope for the hopeless by addressing the promises of their various faiths and looking beyond this world for strength and for answers. Counselors can offer hope through the therapeutic process. They can help the client organize his world into manageable pieces.

Most of life's difficult questions are not overwhelming by themselves, but when they all come at once, as they do in a crisis, one may have difficulty prioritizing issues and dealing with the stress of the event. The counselor helps the client organize events and thoughts so that the client can address them in a reasonable order. Once the client realizes that their problems are manageable, she calms down and sees hope for a productive future. Even though she may still be haunted to some degree by the event and she may still have some unanswered questions, she can cope with the issues by addressing them in manageable doses.


The second step of the project is observation. When someone commits suicide, loved ones are left wondering if they missed something. Did the victim look for help and not find it? These questions are common after a tragic event like a suicide and they are also common after a homicide. Unfortunately, the fact is that many times there were signs of what was pending, but people who had the opportunity to see these clues missed them.

Sometimes we may be unable to see symptoms. At other times we may see the warning signs, but for some reason we may be powerless to intervene. However, many times there are places where intervention is possible, but those who had the power to intervene either ignore the warning signs or they do not know what to do when they recognize troubling symptoms. Know that we learn from the past and apply what we know to our future as we become more aware of warning signs that occur around us.


To be a mentor is to be a trainer, confident, guide, educator, and resource for wisdom and knowledge. A parent fills the role of mentor for a child when he or she looks for opportunities to teach the child both formally and informally. Many parents see this as part of their responsibility in parenting their children, but on the other hand, many do not. When a child is left without this resource, he or she is dependent upon his or her very limited knowledge and resource base to find the answers to questions that are a natural part of development.

One can become a mentor for a child at school, on the athletic field, in the music or dance hall, or in any other environment. The concerned adult becomes a mentor by involving himself with the child beyond the activity that has brought them together. Learning the child's name, interests, hobbies, goals, and desires opens the door for a relationship that is based on trust and concern. This provides a needed resource for the child who does not otherwise have such access. Children may pick the most unlikely person (a maintenance worker or a secretary) as a confident if the opportunity exists.

When a child has a mentor, he has someone with whom he can share his successes and pains. In turn, this strengthens his social support system. When one sees he is not alone in the world, he is more likely to see the world as a hopeful place of solutions rather than a lonely, hopeless, and powerless place.


Neitzsche argued that we have a "will to power" in that we have a need to discharge the power that lies within us. In other words, we have a need to have control and power over things. When we fill the need to be in control of something, we see ourselves as self-sufficient and capable. When this will to power is unmet, we see ourselves as hopeless and at the mercy of others.

We can gain power over our lives when we find something that we can do that provides a sense of control in a world that can often seem out of control. People become empowered when they find some area of interest that they can master. The area of mastery may be music, dance, writing, sports, mechanics, martial arts, computers, or some other activity

Dr. Moffatt has constructed a hierarchical list of 22 items that he uses to assess the risk for violent behavior. (These items are covered in detail in his book Blind-Sided: Homicide Where It Is Least Expected. If you would like to see reviews, a synopsis, and a table of contents for Dr. Moffatt's book, click on the link "Dr. Moffatt's Book" below. If you are interested in ordering this book you can order it from Greenwood Publishing or Amazon.com .)

-- history of aggressive behavior

-- subjective fear of person by others

-- threatening behaviors/statements of
intent to do harm

-- specific victim

-- social isolation

-- antisocial behavior

-- absence of support system

-- lack of or weak social skills

-- clear feeling of being wronged by target

-- severe situational stress

-- job instability

-- substance abuse

-- poor self-image

-- suicide attempts/ideation

-- fantasies of violence

-- presence of aggressive models

-- divorce/marital instability

-- loss of job

-- poverty

-- available weapon

-- male gender

-- age 23-45