experience of violent situations?!

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by nicky*, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. nicky*

    nicky* New Member

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    Sep 8, 2013

    Hi together!

    If you are a teacher who teaches students in the age of 6-15, who often did you face violent disputes of students in your career?

    And how often could you or your colleagues stop a punch-up among students with only verbal intervention, i.e. loud demanding instructions?

    Last week, I was on playground duty when a fight between two boys at the age of 12 broke out.

    I was shortly on spot to intervene but they didn't stop fighting until I positioned myself between the combatants and pull them apart so that they weren't able to reach one another with me in the way what
    consequently makes continuing the brawl impractical for a few seconds.

    After that I had to hold one of the combatants down about a minute till he stops to flail, till he finally also gave in.

    My principal told me the next day that his parents have complained about my "strategy to stop such a roughhousing" as they call it and that I should rather revert to verbal intervention techniques and should always approach a physical restraint as a last resort.

    So what is your experience with such situations? How did you stop violent actions succesfully (if you've known it to happen)?
     
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  3. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I usually have 2-3 fights per school year (14-15 year olds) in my classroom or in the hallway near me. We have a pretty high number per year as a school.

    I don't intervene. If it's in the classroom, I tell the rest of the students to move into the hallway and I press the "panic" button. If I clear the other students out and get hold of security, I might shout "stop" if I think about it, but I don't go anywhere near the altercation. 4 out of the 5 fights I've been present for in the last 2 years have broken themselves up once they noticed that their peers were gone and that I didn't care. The 5th was broken up with security guards and pepper spray.
     
  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I would not get involved. There is a lot of room for accusations that you touched them inappropriately, or hurt them, etc. Your job could be on the line. You could get hurt.

    My students are 14-18 and being a female, I don't think I'd stand a chance.
    Using my voice, maybe or probably. At least hopefully. If I stood really close, hopefully they'd see me and stop so that they won't accidentally hit me, out of respect towards me, or out of fear for getting in bigger trouble, but I wouldn't risk my safety to find out.

    I did have a fight in my classroom, 2 weeks ago, and I did what I was supposed to. I stayed out of the way, and called for assistance on the radio. One boy was 200 lbs, the other was actually standing his ground so he didn't need me to rescue him anyways. Neither of these boys knew me well, so me standing next to them wouldn't have made a difference.
    My verbal commands would have gone unanswered, so I just stood there and watched them. The whole thing was 40 seconds anyways.

    My other concern would be the rest of the students either get into the fight or start one on their own, so I was trying to be vigilant about that, too, but they just sat there and watched.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I do not physically intervene in a physical altercation. Ever. I direct the students fighting to stop fighting; they usually don't listen. I direct everyone else in the vicinity to move away; they usually do listen.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I've taught pre k, 2nd and third....minor biting in pre K...nothing else in any other grade.
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I've broken up a few fights, not too many. And most were in the early years of my building in the late '80's. I can't remember the last one I even heard of.

    The worst were always those between the girls. The guys would stop the moment a female teacher got involved, but not the girls.
     
  8. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Last year I taught second grade. When two students stepped towards each other to fight, I would go right over to them and stop it, either verbally or physically.

    I have separated fights of older children as well - our school goes up to 8th grade - but have done that only verbally and by standing near the combatants.

    We don't have anyone at our school who will come to our aid to help us if there is a fight. If we don't stop it, no one will.
     
  9. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    By our contract, we are NOT allowed to get in the middle of a fight. We can only verbally tell them to stop
     
  10. Securis

    Securis Cohort

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    When I was still teaching, I witnessed a few 'fights'. Some were barely that and ended as soon as they began. One was a wild melee of a dozen or more combatants. Students and young people who were either graduates or dropouts all mixed in there together. turns out it was a neighborhood thing spilling over into the week. 7:30 in the morning, what a way to start the day!

    Anyway, what I was told, "do what any reasonable person would do", which will not really protect you from a lawsuit. So, all you can do is verbally demand they stop and let them sort it out.
     
  11. HistTchr

    HistTchr Habitué

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    I have never had an actual fight in my classroom, but there have been some nearby in the hallway. I have broken up a few of them, but I can't even remember the last time one happened where I had to get involved.
     
  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I don't remember the last time I witnessed a fight that was anything beyond some pushing and name-calling, which is easily broken up with a stern voice. We cannot put our hands on a child in this situation unless we have been trained, and even then, shouldn't do it unless there are two adults.
     
  13. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Sep 9, 2013

    I've never had a fight, but I work with mostly younger students. I did have a 3rd grader one year with a hot temper. A quick hand on his shoulder and my voice usually prevented him from retaliating.
     
  14. MarkLakewood336

    MarkLakewood336 Rookie

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    wow! This is an unfortunate situation. Personally, I feel that your actions were appropriate. When there already is a fight in progress, I do not see it likely that using verbal de escalation techniques is going to resolve the issue. Does your school or district have a policy regarding how educators should resolve these issues? The only thing that I would recommend is that you follow whichever guidelines the school district has in place.
     
  15. nicky*

    nicky* New Member

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    Sep 9, 2013

    At first, thanks for your numerous comments! ;)

    It really suprises me how you deal with such violent escalations in so many different ways.
    In fact, it seems that there is no patent remedy for the perfect intervention to stop a school fight which definitely works at 100%.

    I'd love to have security guards who emerge as a last resort when all other staff's interventions fail, even if I'm very sceptical about using pepper spray against people, especially kids who just don't want to lose face in a fight.

    Indeed, I informed myself about a policy concerning the approach how to take action in violent situations among students and this legal regime expects that teachers have to take each possible action to make students immediately stop fighting and to do everything possible to bring an escalated conflict situation under your control even if you have to make use of physical restraint as a device to put an end to a rough punch-up.

    It also expects that as soon as the two combatants are separated from each other the teacher has to enforce that the student he or she holds down (in case of physical intervention) leaves the "combat zone" into a relaxation room which has to be provided by school for students who need some time to cool down after a temper or such situations more or less.

    But just imagine the scene in which two students are fighting on the playground, the audience of many students shouting "Fight! Fight! Fight!", maybe with a lot of luck two male teachers who manage just to pull both participants away from each other and then your additional duty to "escort" the combatants forcefully to different rooms in order to reach a ease the heated situation. :rolleyes:
     
  16. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Lol, since I'm the one who mentioned pepper spray, I'll at least clarify that I'm high school and where I teach, that 1 out of 10 fights involves weapons. At a middle school where actual KIDS (versus adult-sized minors) are fighting, I'd be skeptical too. :)
     
  17. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    I've seen fights at elementary schools where I worked in a behavior program, but like...one or two. There is a behavior program at my current school. I've never heard of fights happening with the general ed kids but there are crazy outbreaks all the time with the behavior program. We are specifically told not to physically restrain any child unless we are trained, but there are actually a number of people who are trained because we have the behavior program. I know it's tough but I would not physically get in the middle of a fight with elementary, that could come back and bite you real hard. You're more useful to the kids letting the people in charge handle it and keeping your job safe, I think.
     
  18. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I think we have some fights brewing at our school. There are 2 girls who got expelled from their school for fighting each other, ironically both ended up in our school, in the same classes and are best friends now. Today one announced she was going to fight the other one, I casually replied to just not do it in my classroom. In class they passed a note once, then later on they got into it verbally (it wasn't obvious first, but then it got tense). I just asked 'are you guys gonna fight? , almost with a tone of me waiting so that I can see it. This is kinda funny so it usually breaks up the tension. They were fine after that.
    Even the P knows about their problems, so I think something might go down in the next couple of days (or they'll make up and be BFFs again). But I have them both in the same class in 2 periods.

    There's a student who does not do any work, disruptive in all classes and is trying to challenge everyone, students, teachers, etc. He just really does not care about anything right now, and is very angry. According the our counselor the kids can't stand him and he's looking to get into a fight, and a few want to whip his butt. I also have him twice.

    I will definitely not get involved, will try to prevent it if possible, but once it's on, I'll just call on the radio, and let the girls pull each others' hair out.
     
  19. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    I had a 7th-grade male punch a girl in the face and pull her hair last year. I called the office, and the teacher across the hall came in. It was such an ugly, brutal assault that I was crying afterward, and it really affected my relationship with the boy involved. I could not put aside my feelings of loathing after witnessing such behavior.
     
  20. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I never touch them. Most of the time, yelling will get them to stop. I teach middle school. We can't touch them unless we have been trained.
     
  21. nicky*

    nicky* New Member

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    @History VA:
    Sorry, I was unaware of the severity of the outbreaks of violence at your school!
    I've never experienced a fight where weapons are involved.
    And I'd be at a loss what to do more than ever.
    So, I hope that general playground brawls will be the highest level of agression I've ever encountered in my life!

    By the way, do you know what happened with the students whose fight was stopped by your guards by use of pepper spray after this massive intervention reffered to consequences?
    Does your school policy intends to have permanent security guards on your school grounds and that they are allowed to take such drastic measures in order to prevent such violent actions?

    @willow129:
    How were these fights stopped? Or did nobody intervene?

    This behavior program sounds interesting. What does this program provide besides a training for teachers how to deescalate a violent situation properly?

    @Linguist92021
    What's the consequence at your school for fighting?

    What happens at your school when you call on the radio? Do you have trained staff who is trained for violent outbreaks who will come to the situation and help you?

    @ Ima Teacher:
    How many trained staff do you have?


    Concerning my starting situation written at the beggining of this thread, I can tell you that the parents of one of the fighting boys now want to sue me because of contusions and bruises on their son's body.
    That's whack, since these injuries definitely aren't a result of my physical intervention than on the rough fight he and his schoolfellow had before.
     
  22. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    My school has 8 full-time security guards (armed with handcuffs and pepper spray) and 2 full-time fully armed (and armored vested) police officers.

    I think pepper spray has only been used 3 times in the last 3 years. I just won the fight lottery that school year. :rolleyes:

    The school can be rough, but it's actually the best public high school in my city. So far this year, someone shot out the front windows, but they did it over the weekend. :thumb:
     
  23. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Nicky, at our school fighting can be a few days suspension, up to getting locked up for 30 days or more. It all depends on the student's situation. Last year we had a girl fight another girl. She was on probation and on house arrest I think, don't know the conditions of her probation, but she got locked up for 30 days.
    This year, the fight we had barely resulted in a 1 day suspension. My P said, the kid who fought the other one is 'an extremely dangerous kid'. I love when she says things like that, I just wanna say 'geez, thanx for the warning' :)
     
  24. Cme10

    Cme10 Rookie

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    Hands off!

    Speaking as a woman and a new educator that has never faced this situation I would never. EVER. Place my hands on a student. Not because of any high moral ground or anything but for the following reasons:

    A) You can't always trust your school to defend you and come to your aide when accusations get thrown about.

    B) You can't trust a student not to lie about where they were restrained, how or why and just ONE accusation can ruin your career.

    C) People are sue happy. They want to sue everyone for everything and many parents see their student as never doing ANYTHING wrong. You will ALWAYS be in the wrong.

    D) Even with middle and high school students, we are adults and unless you have been trained you actually could hurt a student.

    I hold these rules closely in many situations, not just violent ones. My university was very clear that we are not to touch students for any reason. No hugs, no pat on the back or shoulder, nothing. (Unless you were CPI trained (Crisis Prevention Intervention) for ESE students/ Behavior ESE students)

    There are simply too many things that can go wrong. It's best to simply call for help, use your voice, and use common sense, don't put yourself in a situation that can easily come back to bite you later. I know in the moment its hard to think but a moment of not thinking can bring you years of heartbreak later.
     
  25. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I've broken up plenty of fights. I've been injured doing so. I've picked kids up off the other one. I've stood between football players twice my size. A lot depends on where you work, what the expectation is, whether you need training, etc.

    One thing I am very grateful for is that my school has a very quick response time when the buzzer is hit. Previous schools did not.
     
  26. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    nicky you asked about my experiences:

    So the first fight I saw at an elementary school was when I was an aid in a behavior program for 4-5th grade. I don't know/can't remember what their policy was on physical restraint, I definitely wasn't trained in it myself. But this fight was with a kid in our program and a boy in the regular classroom. The gym teacher and an aid in my room (both large men) jumped on them and dragged them away from each other. 4th/5th grade so they're still little.

    I now teach music in a school with a program that is the SAME (weirdly, different state though) as where I was an aid. Basically, there are gen ed classes like any other place, but then some self contained classrooms in their own part of the building for students with behavior concerns. These students are referred to our school from different places in the city. The classes are very small, maybe 6 kids at most with lots of aids who are mostly trained in restraint. They have lots of help down there. Unless you are trained in restraint you are not allowed to touch kids at our school, with good reason too as we have lots of special ed here.

    Actually there was a fight in my classroom last week. It was really tense in my room right off the bat (if you don't mind me telling you about it). The gen ed class came in for music, and one of the boys from the behavior program came in with them. No aid. (there are usually 6 of the boys.) There are also 2 life skills kids who are included in that group with their own aid. I love him, but he's not with the behavior kids. If the behavior kids don't come together and there's no aid it's usually a sign they're having trouble in their classroom so the aid is needed. Then another boy came in after I was couple minutes into class and said the others would be coming down. He sat down and then proceeded to call out that one of the gen ed boys was annoying and why does he have to sit near him. Before I could say anything the gen ed kid mumbled something back (this kid is really pretty sweet but can be quite annoying and is a little oblivious) and the boy from the behavior classroom started just SWEARING him up and down. I don't think the gen ed kid had experienced anything like that!!! (this is 5th grade) There was no aid, I said to the boy it sounded like he wasn't ready to be in class yet. I told him he needed to leave but he could come back when he was ready and calm. He wasn't having any of that so I decided I'd wait till the aid got there. Unfortunately the aid when she came is one of their new ones who ... ugh basically useless. She came in with 2 more of the boys. Anyways, I informed her that boy #1 needed to leave and she was like ok let's go, he didn't move. MEANwhile. The two boys who had just came in, happen to sit sort of near each other, were sitting GLARING DAGGERS at each other. One of them jumped at the other and then they were punching and kicking each other right there. The aid with the life skills kids tried to get in the middle of them and boy #1 starts yelling at him to get his hands off them as he's not their teacher. I couldn't get to my phone as they were all between me and it. The aid with the boys booked it down the hall I think to get help and then somewhere in there I managed to get to my phone NOBODY ANSWERS as usual, and someone came in and dragged the two fighting boys out. But boy #1 is still there and looking mad as anything, he also just got back from being suspended, and the rest of the kids are really freaked out and now I have no aids. Can't get ahold of his teacher or anyone so I called the secretary and told her I need someone in my room right away.

    But things were quiet at that point, boy #1 is not moving, so I was like alright, let's skip the rest of the lesson and just play drums. Anyways, the aids came back eventually and I was able to continue kind of as normal.

    They're looking into splitting up those boys now because it's been big problems. Lots of suspensions. It has been really hard for me to have them, I don't know how they are with other specialists. Last time they had to take out two boys who were throwing their pencils at me. Blargh. And I gotta say, I've heard that the gen ed class is sweet on its own, but the boys in it are often pretty unhelpful when everyone is there. That group is also getting really behind in plans for the year. But I think it's going to get better.
     
  27. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Oct 6, 2013

    One of my colleagues was hit in the face breaking up a girl fight. Scary!

    This is my third year at my current school. I have only broken up one fight, and have heard of a handful of others. It doesn't happen very often.
     
  28. NorthStar4512

    NorthStar4512 Rookie

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    We had about four fights last year in school. Most fights happen off school grounds. Kids generally don't want to risk suspension.

    Kids generally want a reason to stop the fight, even after they start one. That's why verbal directives tend to work. They save face because you called them off.

    We let Security handle any physical getting involved. The way I believe I am supposed to handle any situation is, use verbal commands, call the office by phone, shout down the hallway for any available adults, send a student to get any available adults from nearby classrooms. Clear the area of other students if possible (I have not had to do this, but, I have seen it done in other schools where they escort everyone else out of the room and leave the combatants in the room.)

    It is interesting that I have not seen a written policy on this though. This is mostly from experience and hearsay and informal talks with colleagues/administrators that leads to me handling incidents this way.

    Last year a group of boys jumped in and stopped their peer from fighting.

    During another fight, one of our 30+ year teachers (who isn't scared of anything) jumped right in between some boys and they stopped when she got involved.
     
  29. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    I've broken up a few fights. I knew the students and used my voice - my presence was a distraction and the timing was right. A couple of times other teachers, administrators, security had to get involved. Those were with high school kids who were intent on doing damage to each other or anything in their path.
    I've also had success in preventing fights - talking them down and separating them as fast as possible. Just keep other students clear and away. Stay clear yourself.
    It is very, very risky to get between the students during a fight. You'll see that even their friends, peers do not want to intervene in some cases.
    Ask your district if they offer any training. There are some great programs out there for this type of thing.
     
  30. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    If you are in a regular ed school, most students will take the fights away from the teachers, if serious, or talk about it enough to alert teachers, if it is bravado, for someone to stop it before it starts. SPED - different animal. Some have behavioral and emotional disorders that make violence real and more often than you want to think about. We have training about how, when, and why to restrain these students, and it is not a one person job. I see it often enough to know that my job is to let the younger safeties do their job, while the teachers get all students into a classroom where they can't add fuel to the fire. Trying to calm other students who may be almost as unstable is a job in and of itself. If the students are young enough, call for help and position yourself between them, but as they get big enough to do serious damage, call for help first, contain the other students, as I do now, and then see if you can talk them down. Fortunately, there are usually men teachers who are much more intimidating and able to make an impact on how much violence goes on.
     

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