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Old 09-04-2012, 11:22 PM
Jlaney22 Jlaney22 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 9
High School Teacher
Should a teacher break up a fight?

Are we legally obliged to break up a physical fight? If not, what do we need to do? Have you ever been in this position? What did you do?
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:35 PM
scmom scmom is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 2,225
Preschool/Adult School Teacher
I don't know about the legalities, but I broke up a lot of fights when I taught high school. I was probably young and stupid, but I just waded in there and they backed off. The scariest one was a knife fight outside my room. I ran out when I heard screaming and there was a girl on the ground with two boys above her with knives. I was lucky - they turned and ran. Second scariest was a baseball bat fight but I have had a good teacher voice from the beginning and they dropped the bats when I demanded it. Thirty years later, I might not do it again....
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:41 PM
Jlaney22 Jlaney22 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 9
High School Teacher
Everyone seems to hold a different view on this topic, and that is probably why I had so much trouble finding a single definitive answer. A knife fight?! Yikes! You are very lucky that they responded to your presence and stopped! Do you think you being a male/female played a role in the reaction given by students? I am a young female teacher at the high school level and doubt I would get that lucky! Thank you for your response!
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:47 PM
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treefrogs treefrogs is offline
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 55
I know of teachers (a while back while I was doing my internships) who were bitten or had blood from a student get on them. They had to go through HIV/Hepatitis screening. It's easy to just let your peacemaker/protective instinct kick in and break-up a fight, however that can be pretty dangerous. I would ask what the procedures are in your district.
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Old 09-05-2012, 12:15 AM
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czacza czacza is offline
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 21,957
New Jersey
Grade 3
This topic was discussed not long ago.

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Old 09-05-2012, 05:10 AM
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mrachelle87 mrachelle87 is offline
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Posts: 2,803
Kindergarten Teacher
I have--even though they were at the elementary and both were in hs. I feel that it is my job to protect students, even if it means stepping between two stupid ones.
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:15 AM
MissCeliaB MissCeliaB is offline
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Posts: 2,703
It is our policy not to unless we are specifically trained to do so. We just tell them to stop (repeatedly) and call for security while ensuring other students are at a safe distance.
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:21 AM
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MissApple MissApple is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 113
HS ESE Reading
Check with your district, but most likely you are legally protected in your right to NOT break up a fight, especially in older grades where the kids are likely yo be bigger/stronger than you.

In my district, unless you are trained to do it, then you aren't protected from any repercussions. So if you get hurt, it's your own fault. If you pull a student back and they fall anf crack their head, you're liable.

That said, I don't have the ability to just stand by, so I've jumped in to break up a few fights. The kids always stopped, but I always knew the kids involved and trusted them to not hit me. If I didn't know the kids, I'd probably just call for help from our response team.
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:18 AM
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McParadigm McParadigm is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 131
Omaha, NE
I worked in at least one place where, if we didn't break up fights, there'd never have been any school. They had this big idea about desegregating the city...all the north-east schools were black, the south-east schools were Latino, and the west side schools were white. The problem was, this meant bussing the north gangs (offshoots of Bloods and Crips and all that) down into the schools populated by the south gangs (Latin Kings, mostly). Crimminy, what a couple of years! A fight a day almost, many involving four or more people. There were a few massive cafeteria rumbles, lots of after school problems, two students expelled for bringing guns to school, three kids suspended for knives, and two fires.

A lot of real quality learning went on, I'll tell you. (...)
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:28 AM
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pete2770 pete2770 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 496
This is a tough question with a varying answer. I think it depends on a lot of things. How violent is the fight? Are you, the teacher, a male or female? (I say that because in regards to certain situations a male has to be a lot more careful because any amount of force used to restrain could be seen as over-doing it. Not to mention a male teacher restraining a female student, I wouldn't touch that in a million years.)

So in my opinion it would be a case by case basis. If I saw two kids having a fist fight, probably, unless it was extremely vicious. In all likely-hood I wouldn't step into group fights, I would call for help, and I wouldn't touch fights with weapons. However, if I had the opportunity and one kid had a weapon and was going for an unarmed student - I may - in the spur of the moment consider some extreme force to take out the weapon-wielding student.
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