Preventing and Managing School Violence

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on juin 6, 2012 10:49 am

Children are barometers of the chaos that exists within their lives.  If a child’s internal and external lives are proving emotionally gregarious, then life can prove personally limitless.  However, if life is proving egregious in nature, then all forms of life may feel personally bleak and without personal merit. 


Children who act out violently are frequently displaying signs of desperation. Desperation may be fueled by a child feeling excluded, judged, disrespected, disapproved, disavowed, or unloved.

Acts of school violence have left many with feelings of frustration, indifference, and a feeling that schools utterly are incompetent.  The reality is, school administrators, teachers, parents, and students themselves are feeling hopeless and desperate to bring normalcy to the academic process.   


Anger is most commonly the root cause of school violence.   What is anger?  Anger is a strong emotional response to a situation, event, circumstance, or person.  It is this displeasure with life at school, in their home, or globally.

There are two types of anger:  good anger which is a righteous form of anger, and bad anger which is an unrighteous portrayal of anger.  Good anger is a reactive response to a violent act, crime, action, or deed.  If I am wronged, then I have a right to be angry over this act.  However, if I carry this anger beyond the momentary confines of the act, then the anger may fester into becoming my own personal nemesis.  All forms of anger should be cognitively dealt with during their onset. 

Bad anger stems from a perceived wrong or a personal imbalance of my life.  I may perceive that someone has intentionally been rude or hostile unto me, while the reality is, the person had no intentions of displaying such negative characteristics.  Likewise, all people have moments of personal negativity or indifference.  We should never assume that someone is intending us undue harm or distress, rather we should seek to confirm the imbalance in another’s life.   


Schools should be aware of problematic students.  They should have a grasp of the level of violence which ensues each child’s life, and if possible, the causation of the violence.   If there is a student that has proven violent, or has violent tendencies, the school should act proactively offering psychotherapy.  Why should the school take on the financial burden of a student’s therapy?  Consider the following, if a school does not offer psychotherapy, then the school will most-assuredly be bogged down by the behavioral expressions of violence.  Furthermore, if the student does ensue a violent act, then the students, teachers, parents, and administrators become prone to the student’s behavioral attitudes, percepts, and acts. 

Reinforce student rules and code of ethics.  Even the youngest of children should be offered a student handbook, which should be made accessible online.  Being consistent is a necessity when dealing with violent acts or threats.  However, if you treat any student as a potential threat or predator, they will surely meet your expectations.  Treat all students with a graceful and merciful attitude.  If students feel respected, they will reflect a respectful attitude.  Always seek to implement a win-win approach when dealing with students.  Never assume that a child is bad or incapable of improvement, always assume that a child is capable of improvement. 

Recognize the warning signs.  If a student is a potential threat, you can be assured that there is always a warning sign.  Whether or not we pick up on the verbal and nonverbal cues, we should be attentive to all communication being received from individual students.   Troubled students are often displaying oppositional and antisocial behaviors.  It is rare that a student acts out, before having already verbally or nonverbally communicated their disgust with life, situations, events, or others. 


A troubled child reads like a roadmap, be aware of the signs. The following is a brief list of  signs and symptological characteristics of a troubled child: 

  •  history of bullying or being bullied
  • sudden lowering of grades or academic performance
  • lacks close friends, or has suddenly departed from his or her close friends
  • history of behavioral issues, outbursts, and problems
  • children who have endured any form of abuse, whether personally or vicariously
  • use of abusive language and communication
  • a known history of using drugs or alcohol
  • has little regard for the safety or wellbeing of others
  • history of, or sudden decrease in school attendance
  • children who have a preoccupation with violence (television, movies, games, art, music or literature)
  • has a history of suicidal or homicidal ideation or communication
  • a child who has brought a weapon to school or school related activities
  • has been known to be abusive to animals
  • has a history of sudden rage, anger, or violence

Teachers and administrators should be trained with Cognitive Behavioral Approaches.  Teachers should challenge students who are communicating distorted and negative thinking.  If a teacher offers positive communication, then the student is less likely to reflect negative or hostile attitudes.  One of the greatest challenges of disruptive behaviors, is offering positive feedback rather than negative.   If a student acts out, modify the students behavior through active and reflective listening.   Always offer students alternatives to their negative thought-patterns, behaviors, and choices.  Teachers and administrators can offer problem solving skills, life skills, critical thinking skills, and coping skills. Be a model of proactivity. 

Schools should be focused on instilling positive environments, rather than reactive environments.  If a school focuses on always being on guard, then the school is proving reactive rather than proactive.  Schools and administrators should be most-of-all concerned about implementing an environment of human respect and personal dignity. 


During the past couple of decades, the increase of school violence has caused schools to choose legal remedies rather than in-house resolutions. The problem is, that when students are suspended from school, they are left to brew upon the event, rather than being offered positive resolutions for their negative actions.   

Behavioral modification

Rather than suspending students for fighting or acting out; the restorative initiative calls for  face-to-face encounters with parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, and the students themselves.  Recent research has shown that children who have been given a second chance have a greater probability of recovery; whereas children who are suspended have a higher likelihood of abandoning their academic pursuits leaving them vulnerable to society’s woes.  Therefore, it is society’s obligation to raise a child, with the respect, dignity, and unconditional love that we all deserve. 

Author:   Dr. Asa Don Brown, Ph.D., C.C.C.


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Osofsky, J. D., (Ed.) (2004) Young children and trauma, Intervention and treatment. New York,   NY: The Guilford Press.

Sattler, J. M. (2002) Assessment of children, Behavioral and clinical applications (4th ed.) San Diego, CA: Jerome M. Sattler, Publisher, Inc.

Thomas, P. (2003) Is it right to fight? A first look at anger. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.

Whitehouse, E. & Pudney, W. (1996) A volcano in my tummy, Helping children to handle anger. Gabriola Island, BC:  New Society Publishers

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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