U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Private Security Officers as Victims of Trauma and Stress: The South African Experience and Initiatives to Manage It

NCJ Number
Acta Criminologica Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: 2004 Pages: 121-128
K. Pillay; C. Claase-Schutte
Date Published
8 pages
This paper identifies sources of stress for private security officers, the adverse effects of such stress, and how the intensity and effects of such stress can be addressed.
As crime levels increase in South Africa and criminal methods become more sophisticated, the number of private security officers has increased. These security officers must often work under dangerous and life-threatening conditions. Their duties include the protection of persons and property in areas infested with violent criminals. They are charged with protecting businesses and property that are targeted by criminals who are armed and dangerous. Security officers are not always armed and must rely on "panic buttons" that are linked to an armed response company or a control room. In most instances, help or back-up arrives after the perpetrators have left. The stress of this work environment can cause chronic fatigue, psychological exhaustion that undermines family relationships, and persistent anxiety while at work. In order to reduce such stress, dangerous and adverse working conditions should be minimized where possible. Security officers should be trained in stress management and in the management of the work environment, so as to reduce the risks of harm. Psychological and other medical assistance should be available to officers who need it. Officers' health conditions should be monitored. Communication between front-line security officers and their supervisors must be encouraged, particularly regarding working conditions and ways of reducing or eliminating sources of job-related stress. A 13-item bibliography