School Violence Prevention:
What You Don't Know About Violent Students Can Hurt You
School has only been in session a short time, and our new Classroom Management Help Forum and Live Expert Help areas (click the Live Help icon at the bottom of the page) are being inundated with requests for aid for just a single problem area: violent students
Frankly, we are very concerned to be getting so many requests for help with violent students who are verbally abusing, defying or hitting their teacher. Yes, that sentence included the phrase "hitting their teacher."
Even though you may not want to hear this, if you don't have basic, mental health-based, violence prevention training, you are at risk of facing a serious violent act, potentially, even something like the recent school shootings.
If you have been to one of our workshops (click), or been a careful reader of this Behavior and Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog, you already know that conventional interventions always fail with the most out-of-control, violent students.
If you have ever found that "nothing works" to control some students, that is because standard school violence prevention methods are never effective tools to manage this population.
In the first issues of this magazine, you should have read about how very critical it is to use different violence prevention strategies with these most out-of-control youth and children. If you don't recognize the term "conduct disorder," click on the Blog menu at the top of the page to re-visit those Introductory articles and get at least a portion of those must-have violence prevention basics.
The techniques shown below are predicated on you having the basic training on violence prevention that was offered in preceding issues. Those techniques start in the section below.
School Violence Prevention Methods
Self-Control Has No On/Off Button
Extremely aggressive students often claim to have self-control that they are simply choosing not to use.
If you have been to one of our workshops, you know that claim is a classic manipulation. Here is an excellent intervention to use in response.
When a student says that he does not need to improve his self-control now, that he will just do it later in his "real job," or when he is grown, ask the student how he will get those skills. When the student claims he will just be able to "just do it", ask him to show that ability now.
Most students perform quite poorly. Next, ask the student: What will be any different in his "real job" or when he is grown? Your goal is to aid the youngster to realize that he can't instantly develop and use self-control.
Teach him that there is no on/off self-control button– that he needs to learn and practice self-control to have it.
Follow Your Inner Cop
If you understand severely out-of-control youth and children like conduct disorders, you know that they lack a conscience.
Yet, a conscience is the most powerful force to help people stay in control. Trevor, a participant in our Portland workshop last week, suggests a method that can help. Trevor teaches conduct disorders to have an "Inner Cop" or else face the consequences instigated by an "Outer Cop."
This device won't compensate for the lack of a conscience but can provide a substitute, internal mechanism that helps.
Meet the Tantrumming Hair Dresser
Relate self-control problems to students' goals. Use some of our popular multiple choice quizzes, with questions like this one from our Temper and Tantrum Tamer book (click to view):
Kwan Lee tantrums when mad. She wants to be a hair dresser. She'll discover that when she screams and turns red with rage,
a) Customers don't even notice
b) Customers walk out really fast
c) Customers will come from all over the region to have their hair cut and styled by the tantrumming hair dresser.
Thinking is Highly Over-Rated
Construct a red stop sign and mount it on a ruler, but instead of just having the word "Stop" on the sign, put "Stop and Think."
Drill students on managing their reactions to anger-provoking and potentially violent situations by role- playing.
Use the "Stop and Think" sign to freeze the action so you can cue the student on behaviors to use or avoid. Use this device to confront the classic manipulation severely misbehaved students offer: "I didn't have time to think."
Jocks in Jail
Ask the students to play "Jocks in Jail," and consider what has happened recently to famous athletes who thought they could act however they wanted.
The goal is to help severely misbehaved students understand that they may face huge consequences for misbehavior.
Since these youngsters lack a conscience, it is critical to use methods like this device that offers external control to compensate for the lack of internal self-regulation.