Fight or flight ?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Milsey, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Oct 26, 2010

    There was a fight in my class today. I called security rather than get involved. As a teacher, are you supposed you wade into a fight between two young men or just have someone else break it up?
     
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  3. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Let someone else.
     
  4. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    That is what the security is for. I would remove the other students from the area if possible and use words to try to stop the fighting, but let the security actually get in the middle.
     
  5. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Absolutely flight, not fight. Call security ASAP and do what you can to keep other students from joining in the flight or accidentally getting hit by the students involved.

    Sorry to hear you had to go through this, hallway fights are bad enough, the ones in the classroom are the worst.
     
  6. oldfashioned

    oldfashioned Comrade

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    Wow, this brings back memories of when I taught sixth grade and taught the class from he_ _. I am only 5 feel 2 inches tall, and we had fights often. Our school had no "security", so I was forced to call my principal and the counselors (all women) and our male 3rd grade teacher to help calm things down. On the occasions I DID get between the combatants, I was thrown to the ground and once my glasses got broken. If you have security at your school - call them.
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Unless you're trained to break up fights, call security, remove the other kids to safety, and stay out of it.
     
  8. Chalk

    Chalk Companion

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    Exactly what mmswm said.

    I get called because I am trained both in law enforcement from my military days and in school district SOP for handling physical altercations.

    One can get in huge trouble if you do not know what techniques are allowed or prohibited by state or district rules. First year, a student with a knife threatening to stab another student in the bathroom. I latched the kids closest wrist and used a technique called "common peroneal take down" which shuts off the nervous system of both legs for about 3 to 5 seconds, the kid started to fall in which I guided him to the floor and held him in a wrist lock until the released the knife.
    I made a very serious error in judgement.
    Only because the the other student was in immediate danger of being killed was I not kicked to the curb and only because of my background and the support of the law enforcement use of force continuum.
    The mistake??? not hitting the kids knee or the wrist lock those are ok. It was because I forced him to the ground and held him in a painful position till he gave up the knife. Now I have been trained to understand that I do what is needed to secure the safety of the victim student and the bystander students and once the kid hit the floor and the other kid escaped the bathroom, I should have backed off and waited for the police. Who would have guessed?

    They didn't care about me stunning the kid with a knee strike, they were upset because I forced him to give up the weapon. Its ok and I understand why they have the policy but at the time and for anyone unsure, you could land in real hot water for doing what you felt was right.

    Sorry for the long story.
     
  9. Momma C

    Momma C Comrade

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    Our policy is to try to stop a fight before it happens, but sometimes there is no warning. The first question asked after a fight is to the teacher, "What did you do to stop the fight?" Our instructions are to simply say, "Stop fighting!" As per our principal, a fight is not worth a teacher getting hurt. I will not put myself in harms way to stop a fight. A few years back our lady PE teacher tried to stop a fight. She ended up having to have 3 operations on her leg!! :woot:
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Never get involved in a physical fight. Remove other students to safety and call campus security.

    I think it doesn't even matter if the two fighters are young men. I wouldn't even get involved in a fight between two young women.
     
  11. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    The two teachers I know personally at my school who were hit in fights were both hit by girls.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Most of the fights I've heard about at my school have been between girls.
     
  13. bros

    bros Phenom

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    My HS had no security whatsoever.

    I saw multiple fights.

    One of my English teachers (who is a bouncer during the summer) broke up a fight where a kid punched out a teacher who tried to break up the fight. He had to pin the kid against the wall to get him to stop punching him.

    Another time, a fight between two girls broke out in my spanish class in 10th grade (It was because a girl was sitting in another girls seat before class, because she needed to talk to her friend about an assignment given in the class before). So the girl whose seat was occupied was sitting quietly behind the girl for a bit, then grabbed her by the hair and SLAMMED her to the floor, surprisingly no blood was on the floor from that. The teacher was out of the room talking to another teacher (The then-69-year-old Latin teacher), who saw the fight and had to break it up very, very carefully.

    I believe that he grabbed their shoulders and separated them, and had the teacher escort one out into the hall.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    While there might not be designated security personnel, there are administrators. They, not the teachers, should handle fights.

    Our school district makes us all watch these videos as the beginning of the year about seclusion and restraint. The district policy (and also state law?) is basically that unless students have an order in their IEP that says that it's okay to restrain or seclude them, it's not okay to do those things. Even placing a hand over a student's hand to help them write is considered a restraint. If I were to do that for a student who didn't have that written into his IEP, my employment would likely be terminated.

    I'm sure that pinning a student up against a wall, even to stop a fight, is considered a restraint. Not only could I be fired for that, I could also be personally sued. It's also possible that I could accidentally injure the student or even be injured myself. I won't be doing it, and I don't recommend that anyone else does either.

    Of course, use your best judgment.
     
  15. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Girl fights are far worse than boy fights, in my opinion.

    When boys fight, much of the motivation is base on outward appearance. Looking tough is just as important as, if not more than, doing physical harm to the person they are fighting. For that reason, they will sometimes back down when faced with the presence of a teacher or administrator - "Yeah, I would have kicked his a$$ but then a teacher showed up."

    But when girls actually do come to blows, they want to hurt each other and that's all they want to do. And they will hurt anyone who tries to stop them.

    I've broken up a lot of boy fights with nothing more than my voice and orders as to which direction to walk. And I'm lucky to have never needed to break up a girl fight after witnessing a few.
     
  16. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    This is from my union contract:

    In situations that fall within the scope of District employment, unit members may use reasonable force and means to protect themselves from attack, protect other persons or property from attack, quell a disturbance threatening physical injury to others, or obtain possession of weapons upon the person or within the control of another.
     
  17. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    WOW, that is quite ridiculous on so many levels.
     
  18. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Be very careful when trying to break up a fight. YELL at them to stop and call for help from other teachers, but don't jump in between until ready!!!!!!

    You serve no one when you get hurt and they just keep fighting.

    I was in the middle of a nasty one just last week and I was there when it first started. I'm a guy, I served, and I hold a black belt in Shotokan. There was still no hope of me getting those two guys apart by myself. Both were bigger than me and both were intent on mixing it up.

    It took me, the SRO, and the SPED teacher who is a former deputy sheriff to pull them apart. Even after we got them apart and were dragging each in different directions, one of them was trying HARD to get out of the SRO's hold to go after the other.

    Don't just RUN into a fight. Think about what your doing and where your back up is coming from. Yell at them to stop, but don't get in the middle until you have overwhelming force with you.
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It's been at least 20 years since I've broken up a fight.

    But it never occurred to me NOT to break it up.
     
  20. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    I was trained to NEVER touch a student if a student is being defiant. It could be a lawsuit waiting to happen (or lies being told by a student). Instead, it was explained to me to call for assistance (i.e. principal, vice principal, counselor, etc) SOMEONE else so they can be your witness if you absolutely HAVE to touch the student in order to correct a defiant behavior.

    (This training was not by the state of az lol)
     
  21. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    I've had 2 fights in my classroom. One where a girl leapt across desks and started wailing on a boy. He wouldn't hit her back and she was doing serious damage. I pulled her off of him. Second, 2 boys started fighting with no warning. Grabbed one and pulled him off as well.

    If I had waiting for campus security to show up in 5-10 minutes, someone would have gotten really hurt. Both times though, I had an opening to grab one of them. As a small female, I don't know if I could/would try to break up a fight with no opening like that.
     
  22. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    This is interesting, I just broke up a fight this morning. Never once did I think to not break it up...to me, standing idly by while numerous other students are in the hallway, watching it take place, is the epitome of senselessness. What kind of example would I be setting if I took the time to call administration, and how hurt would the students be by the time they came?

    I have received crisis prevention and management training though. Technically, I and 2 other teachers are the only ones in our building that can handle such a crisis. And we have to take refresher courses every year or we lose certification!

    I am somewhat surprised by the non-fighters in this thread...I understand the desire to CYA, but common sense should prevail too. JMO. I understand why rules are in place and how they protect the students, but I also can't help but shake my head at how ridiculously PC our society has become.
     
  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I've broken up a couple of fights (thankfully, not an issue except when I'm proctoring state testing) but I've also taken martial arts for several years and know how to block a punch if it flies in my direction. On the other hand, my wrestling coach of a father broke up a fight between two freshman girls and found out one of them had a six-inch blade on her. He decided then and there that he was too old to break up fights.
     
  24. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    In response to TeacherAPR...


    Never touch a student in a conflict is generally good advice as it can escalate a conflict, but it doesn't work too well when one student is trying to physically harm another student.




    In response to several.....


    I never said "Don't try to break it up" and I'm not suggesting that you stand by to watch with the crowd. Yell at them to break it up, but be careful about getting into the fray. Doing so has a good chance of getting them to stop and it calls attention from other teachers to assist as well as your SRO.

    I've only taught for 3 years and I don't teach at a particularly violent or dangerous school. It's just your standard rural high school. In just 3 years, I've seen the AP get her nose bloodied and 3 female teachers get knocked hard to the ground trying to physically break up fights. In each case, they went into the fray without back up, they got themselves hurt, and the fight continued just as it would have otherwise.

    Teens today are a LOT bigger and stronger than they were when we were growing up. In addition, lord help you if you jump in on one who practices mixed martial arts. We've got one who competes MMA at my school and he can screw you up in the blink of an eye. He's currently out under zero tolerance for busting our AP's nose.
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    My favorite fight story:

    We haven't had a fight in years. But in the early years of my school they were pretty commonplace.

    I remember one in the cafeteria, circa about 1994. Rose, who weighed all of about 100 pounds, was on the microphone, getting the kids ready for dismissal. There were 2 girls left standing, I went over to get them seated so we could dismiss.

    Just as I got there, the big hoop earings came off and I knew I was in trouble. Sure enough, these 2 girls went at it fast and furious.

    I was small enough at the time that I was dragged half way across the cafeteria. Rose was next closest, she joined in but the 2 of us were no match for these 2 girls. Neil, (who coached hockey) was next, but still we couldn't get the girls apart. Finally, Herbie the maintainence man got involved, and together we got the girls apart.

    We calmed them down, and agreed that we would go separately up to the dean's office. We let go of both girls

    and WHAM!!!! They were back at it.

    So Herbie pretty much took one upstairs, and Rose, Neil and I kept the other downstairs for 3 minutes.

    Rose and I still laugh about it.

    And, for what it's worth: I've never, NEVER had 2 boys continue to fight once a female teacher got involved. Girls, yes. Boys, absolutely not.
     
  26. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I have never really had to break up a fight, but I learned a good tip in a workshop. The guy said if there is a fight, figure out who is LOSING the fight and yell THAT kid's name. He or she is going to be more likely to back down because they don't want their you know what handed to them. He said yell "Name, get out of there." You are giving the losing kid an out.

    I am not 100% but I am pretty sure that we are obligated to get involved if someone is getting really seriously hurt. Like you can't stand by and watch a kid get pummeled or knocked unconscious. Although honestly at that point other kids will usually get involved to break it up. Otherwise, crowd control until someone else gets there.
     
  27. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    My method of breaking up fights is this:
    * yell for them to stop
    * send someone for help
    * clear the area of onlookers
     
  28. mfortheming

    mfortheming Rookie

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    Wow, I feel for her. The school I worked at their policy was keep teaching. We were to teach bell to bell and they took that to the limit and told us that under no circumstances were we to stop teaching, fights, disruptions, you name it, keep teaching. Needless to say there is going to be a mass exidus of teachers at that school come spring.
     
  29. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    I think it depends on the type of fight. Sometimes security never shows up. I have the responsibility to make sure ALL students are safe. I redirect the students off of each other.In our contract it states that we are allowed to use reasonable force to restrain a kid if we are put in danger. If a kid is throwing chairs or desks, then I have the responsibility to get the kid under control before he/she hurts other student. If I don't do anything, then other parents have a case against me.

    You need to read your contract and contact your union.
     
  30. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I love working in elementary schools. Not so much of this nonsense and the problems that go with it. The nastiest fights I ever saw in HS were gal fights. I saw two that had their arms pinned and could not hit and one leaned over and bit the other on the face. I swear they are primal. I have had to break up few fights over my 3 decades+ but when I taught middle school the first year I had some six graders causing problems. I just came up behind one sitting and picked him up over my head and removed him from the fracas. That class never was a problem again. The good old days.
    my take on fights. If some small kid is getting pounded you have to help them. If a bully is seemingly getting his just reward I dont move quite as fast to end the fray.
     
  31. Chalk

    Chalk Companion

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    I wonder how fast the lawyers would be moving if a student was in a fight at my school and a teacher stood by waiting for help and trying to protect the other kids.

    I could see it now.

    "Parents of kid who got beat up in school sue teacher and school for not intervening to protect their child blah blah blah..."

    Or the reverse would happen.

    "Parents of student who was injured during a fight at school sue teacher and school because the teacher broke up the fight and may have caused some of the injuries to the student Blah Blah Blah"

    Darned if you do and darned if you don't
     
  32. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Our litigious society has dumbed down our world.
     
  33. stargirl

    stargirl Companion

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    Heh, I remember at my first teaching job discussing this very same issue with a kindergarten teacher. She told me that the last time she broke up a fight, one of the kindergartners stabbed her in the ankle with a pair of scissors that had happened to be in his hand--she was severely injured and tried to get disability payment while she was out by going to court; the judge said to her, "Where does it say in your contract that you should be breaking up fights?"--and really, thinking about it, she was lucky that it was "just" her ankle that was stabbed.
    Yes, I would get the other students out of the way; I would call for help. But I would not get physically involved and possibly risk my life.
     
  34. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    What did her attorney say about it and what was the court's final ruling in the matter?

    This would be a workman's compensation claim since it's against her employer and whether it is in her contract or not would be irrelevant to such a claim. The reason why she was injured on the job doesn't come into play at all, she only needs to prove that she was injured while on the job and is disabled as a direct result of that injury.

    If the judge made such a statement in court and then ruled against her, he's just handed her a perfect avenue appeal of his ruling.
     
  35. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Stargirl, if a teacher got stabbed by a student like that here, then he/she would have a case. If a student was punching another kid and accidentally punched a teacher, then the teacher would NOT have a case.

    It is a catch 22 situation. I would evaluate the situation and determine if I could handle it before intervening.
     
  36. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    We had a fight in a classroom yesterday between two 8th grade boys. Like Doug and some of the other male teachers here, I can't imagine NOT getting involved and trying to stop a fight between two students. My first instinct would be to put my hand or arm between them to get them apart.

    After reading the other responses in this thread, I decided to go to the source and ask my principal exactly what I could and could not do. He said that, absolutely, I should try to break up the fight if possible. We don't have security and we only have an SRO at our school 1 day a week. Not only would the district rules back me up, but NC state law does as well. NC has a "Good Samaritan" law that prevents lawsuits being filed against someone who tries to help another person. If I used the Heimlich maneuver on a choking person and accidentally broke a rib in the attempt, NC law covers my action because I was acting on behalf of the safety of the other person. The same applies to breaking up fights; I'm trying to prevent injury to one or both participants, so our district and state rules protect my actions.
     
  37. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I would be so worried that a student would have an unseen weapon....
     
  38. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    That's a legitimate concern, but is even more reason to intervene. I would rather he or she try to use the weapon on me than on another kid. I'm more capable of defending such an attack.
     
  39. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    You can't defend what you don't see.
     
  40. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Yes, but it is......... easier for the teacher if they get injured.

    Imagine how the teacher would feel if their student was stabbed due to them not intervening before the student pulled out a knife or something?
     
  41. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    That's true, but I would be looking for a weapon on either person as I approach them, while they are just focused solely on the attacks they can see coming.

    I understand it is a risk to be taken seriously, but I would still prefer that attack directed towards me than a student.

    I'm not trying to be cavalier or macho. I do fully understand the risk involved and realize the very real potential for harm I could face. I've had martial arts and self-defense training, so I know how to watch for "sneak attacks".

    Of course, I also recognize I'm not as young or agile as I used to be. My reflexes and timing are definitely slower now, but I'm also a lot larger (and a fair bit stronger) than I was in my youth, so I still feel more capable of defending that type of attack.

    Maybe I'm being naive' and foolish, but I believe most students WILL back off from a teacher when they won't back off from a peer. I know that is not always the case, but I feel it is true most of the time.

    We had a Geometry teacher in high school with a partially crippled leg. He had a hard time walking around the classroom, but I saw him jump in the middle of more fights during HS than any other teacher. He even jumped in between the two biggest seniors (both very young and strong defensive backs on our football team) one year, even though one of the boys had grabbed a LARGE limb from a nearby pine tree and was swinging it like a club. The two boys hadn't actually come to blows yet and the one was just swinging his "club" as a threat. The Geometry never hesitated or backed down. He got right between them and DEMANDED the student "put that limb down NOW". The big, burly defensive back did just that and the fight never happened.

    I have a very loud and very sharp voice when necessary. If need be, I can shout over the top of an entire classroom full of students. In a moment of confrontation, my voice will be the first "weapon" I use and it should be effective in most situations. If not, I think my physical size and status as a teacher/authority figure will come into play next. There are a few middle-schoolers larger than I, but not many. If it goes beyond that, then once again, I feel I am more prepared to face that risk than a student.

    I might be completely wrong, but I am willing to take that chance.
     

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