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Tips for Teachers to Handle Possible School Violence

written by: Julia Bodeeb • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 8/2/2012

School violence is on the upswing. More students have weapons in schools and violent crimes are increasing. Too often there are breaking news stories about fresh acts of violence. Teachers must be proactive and know how to prepare for and handle possible violence.

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    Know Your School's Plan

    First and foremost, you are responsible for knowing the disaster plan established by your school or school district. An individualized plan will take into account the building's logistics that may come into play. Knowing the plan ensures that you will react in accordance with it in the event of an attack. The additional recommendations below do not take the place of your primary responsibility to follow the plan set in place by your school administrators.

    Keep a Cell Phone Handy

    Keep a cell phone handy at all times when in the classroom. It may be best to keep the cell phone in your pocket, rather than in a purse locked in a desk or cabinet. Ensure you can react readily to reach help in a crisis by keeping the cell phone on your person at all times when in the school building.

    Position Desk Near Classroom Door

    Keep your desk located near the classroom door so it may be used to block the door if needed. In a crisis if someone with evil intent is attempting to enter the room, push the desk up in front of the door and use it as a barricade.

    Identify Students at Risk for Violence

    Meet with the guidance department and the school psychologist if you have seen signs a student may be at risk for violent behavior. Signs such as isolation, physical fights, aggression, taunting other students, self destructive behavior and extreme anger all warrant a visit to the guidance department to discuss the student’s behavior.

    Sometimes it is crucial to call a student’s behavior to the attention of guidance or administration to ensure a student receives the care that may be needed and to ensure possible violent behavior does not escalate into an actual violent incident. Be sure to document all signs of unusual behavior and keep parents and gaurdians informed of any behavior that is inappropriate for school.

    Keep the School Office and Police Phone Number in Cell

    Have the school office number and local police number programmed into your cell phone so you may reach them immediately in an emergency. Violence may erupt suddenly and when in crisis it is sometimes hard to remember where emergency numbers are stored so just keep them in your cell to be prepared for emergencies.

    Utilize Anti-Violence News Articles

    Teach about anti-violence strategies in class. Bring in news articles that promote non-violence and teach students the importance of avoiding weapons, gangs, and peers who are a bad influence.

    Keep Classroom Keys Handy

    If you do not normally keep your classroom door locked, have keys handy at all times so you can quickly lock it in an emergency. If chaos erupts in the hallway and you need to go into lockdown mode, having the keys handy in a pocket will enable you to react quickly and secure your classroom.

    Many urban teachers start their school day by patting down their pockets to ensure they have their cell phone and classroom keys at hand. This safety practice is especially important at times when the intercom system is broken and it may difficult to summon help if an emergency erupts.

    School shootings are occurring each year. It is a tragedy that our schools are too often under siege by gunmen. With students causing violence and the ever-possible threat of terrorism it is very important for school teachers to be prepared to handle any emergency.