Reporting Violence: Resources & Methods

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Violence does not have a place in the classroom. This lesson will focus on ways to identify violence along with resources and methods for reporting violence. We will end with a brief quiz to test what you have learned.

Violence in the Classroom

Most of us envision schools as safe havens for children. However, as demonstrated through countless recent events, violence is all too common in schools and classrooms. Violence can be physical, psychological, or sexual.

Punching or hitting another person is physical violence. Inappropriately touching the genitals of another or forcing sexual behavior on someone is sexual violence. Bullying, stalking, harassment and intimidation are examples of psychological violence. Physical violence may leave a visible mark but sexual and psychological violence may not, making them more difficult to identify.

Physical violence may include punching and hitting.

How do you know if someone is a victim? What do you do when you suspect that someone has been touched by violence? Where can you go for help? Let's take some time to answer these very important questions.

Signs of Violence

Teachers have a unique insight regarding the lives of their students both in and out of school. However, parents and students should also be aware of potential risk factors for violence. Behavior patterns, habits, changes in mood or motivation, and physical appearance can all provide clues to identify violence. Let's use an example student to examine the signs to look for in identifying the potential for violence.

Cory has always been a very quiet student. He has few friends and mostly keeps to himself. In the past two weeks, Cory's has stopped completing his work. Instead, he draws images of guns and bombs on his papers. He has been shouting out inappropriately in class and picks fights with other students at recess. He even grabbed another student's smart phone and smashed it to bits.

Cory's behavior demonstrates many troubling signs of violence. A change in behavior or social withdrawal is a clue that something is going on with the student. Furthermore, Cory's interest in and outward expression of violence and rage is inappropriate and may signal violence. Other risk factors may include physical marks, such as bruises, substance use, plans for revenge, or even suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Now that we understand some of the things to look for when identifying violence or the potential for violence in the classroom, let's discuss next steps in dealing with it.

Resources and Methods for Reporting Violence

Cory's behavior has led us to believe that something is going on. What do we do next? If the risk is immediate, efforts should be made to stabilize the situation to ensure everyone's safety. This may involve removing Cory from the classroom entirely to keep him and the other students safe. If the danger is not imminent, steps must be taken to prevent it from going any further.

Teachers have an obligation to report all suspected cases of violence, or any potential for violence. The procedure for doing so will likely vary from school to school; however, the principal of the school is often the go-to person in cases of danger or abuse. There may also be safety officers on campus who can help address and curtail violence.

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