Dangerous People

The traditional approach, almost to the exclusion of alternatives, focuses on an individual or, sometimes, a small social unit like a family. The risk is understood as being 'in' them. We examine and collect information about them in order to make a prediction about the kind of harm or loss they may cause or be victim to. The approach resembles the medical model, wherein the problem is perceived as being in the patient and the task perceived as being to cure the disease. Positivist assumptions—for example, that the risk factors are not affected by the process of observation or the making of value judgements—are regularly made. This approach is apolitical; it does not challenge the status quo. It leads to 'blame', or at least causal responsibility, being attached to the client. It has led to extensive and high-quality empirical research (e.g. Monahan et al., 2001). This approach is associated with research into identifying ever more powerful risk factors.

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