Helping Childrenwith Aggressive Behaviour by othox79


									FRESH Tools for Effective School Health

First Edition 2004

Identifying and Helping Children with Aggressive Behaviour

Description of the tool: This tool sets out a list of warning signs of potential violence among students and offers some useful tips on how to help students with violent behaviour applying a variety of strategies and methods. Teachers and school staff can use this tool in primary or middle school classes. The information in this tool was adapted by UNESCO in collaboration with Health and Human Development Programs at Education Development Center, Inc. from the following publications: International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Guide for Preventing and Responding to School Violence. IACP. VA, USA. The full text of this document is available in pdf format at: Slaby, R. G. Rodell, C. W. Arezzo, D. & Handrix, K.(1995). Early Violence Prevention Tools for Teachers of Young Children. National Association for the Education of Young Children, Washington. D.C. Description of the documents: These documents present different strategies and approaches through which schools can create safer learning environments. The first contains sections on the role of schools, students, parents, and law enforcement agencies in violence prevention and threat assessment during and after major crises. The second reflects factors that define school-based quality programmes for violence control and opportunities for children to make informed choices: positive interactions, well-organized physical and programmatic environments, opportunities for children to make choices, carefully selected materials, and the teaching and modelling of pro-social skills.

This information supports Core Component #4 of the FRESH framework for effective school health: school health services. It will have a greater impact if it is reinforced by activities in the other three components of the framework.

FRESH Tools for Effective School Health

First Edition 2004

Identifying and Helping Childrren with Aggressive Behaviouri

Schools can help students who act aggressively. In every community, school is a setting where students and staff spend a great deal of time. School influences students at critical stages of adolescent development and growth, so it can be the best place for studentdirected programmes to have the greatest impact. Because of these advantages, teachers and staff in schools are well placed to help students with aggressive behaviours. In this tool information has been synthesized into two sections. The first sets out the characteristics of students who exhibit warning signs of potential violence. The second section discusses some classroom-based or school-based strategies that teachers or school staff can apply to help students who show aggressive behaviours.


Identifying warning signs of potential violence

Teachers and school staff can use the characteristics listed below to identify students who could become violent at some point in their lives. It is important to note that these signs simply mean that a child appears to be troubled, and violence might be one of the possible outcomes of this distress. Care should be taken not to stigmatize children nor assume that they will be violent just because they are at risk for such behaviour. The warning signs of potential violence include:

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Has engaged in violent behaviour in the past. Has tantrums and uncontrollable angry outbursts abnormal for someone that age. Continues to exhibit anti-social behaviours that began at an early age. Forms and/or maintains friendships with others who have repeatedly engaged in problem behaviours. Often engages in name-calling, cursing, or abusive language. Has brought a weapon or has threatened to bring a weapon to school. Consistently makes violent threats when angry. Has a substance abuse problem. Is frequently a truant or has repeatedly been suspended from school. Seems preoccupied with weapons, especially those associated with killing people. Has few or no close friends despite having lived in the area for some time. Has a sudden decrease in academic performance and/or interest in school activities. Is abusive to animals. 1

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Has little parental supervision. Has been a victim of abuse or has been neglected by parents or guardians. Has repeatedly witnessed domestic abuse or other forms of violence. Has experienced trauma or loss at home or in their community. Pays no attention to the feelings or rights of others. Intimidates others. Has been a victim of intimidation by others. Dwells on perceived slights, rejection, or mistreatment by others. Blames others for problems and appears vengeful. Seems to be preoccupied with TV shows, movies, video games, reading materials, or music that express violence. Reflects excessive anger in writing projects. Is involved in a gang or antisocial group. Seems depressed or withdrawn or has exhibited severe mood or behavioural swings, which appear greater in magnitude, duration, or frequency than those typically experienced by students that age. Expresses sadistic, violent, prejudicial, or intolerant attitudes. Has threatened or attempted suicide or acts of self-mutilation.

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Helping students with aggressive/violent behaviours

Once students who are at risk for aggressive or violent behaviours have been identified, the next task will be to help them. Some of the following strategies can be applied in helping these students: 1. Recognize that you have a responsibility to prevent or stop violent behaviour in your classrooms or schools. Doing so is important both for children who behave aggressively and for other children in the class. Whenever possible, respond to aggressive acts in a way that will have meaningful consequences. For example, if a fight between two children results in a spill, make them clean it up.


2. Follow the basic strategies for handling aggression when children show severe or persistent patterns of aggression. Basic strategies include motivating the aggressor to change problem habits and learn new ones, discussing and involving children in alternate solutions to problems and guiding children toward mutually agreeable resolutions. 3. Design individualized behaviour-change plans to help children who behave aggressively. Research and classroom experience suggest that by applying individualized programmes of behaviour change, along with the usual guidance strategies, teachers are able to help students who otherwise cannot be reached. Individualized plans may include a range of positive incentives, such as a system of concrete reminders or incentives and corrective consequences, or time-out procedures. A brief description of each of the individualized plans follows.


System of concrete reminders or incentives Consider a system of concrete reminders or incentives for children who require extra support to begin the process of change. Let children know that these systems are temporary. Help children focus on self-control and the consequences of behaviour change. Concrete reminders or incentives may include rewards such as stickers or washable stamps. Thus, a child might earn a sticker for a positive social behaviour or for the absence of aggressive behaviour over a period of time. When explaining and carrying out concrete reminders or incentives, also use reasoning to focus the child’s attention on the natural ability of self-realization and self-correction. You could say, for example, “I will help you learn not to hit and how to play nicely with other children.”


Time-out procedure for aggression control Consider using a brief time-out procedure for aggression as one in a range of corrective consequences. Giving the child a short time-out at the moment of aggressive behaviour has been shown to be effective as part of a programme to help control aggression. The purpose of this procedure is to remove the child briefly from rewarding events, including attention from adults and peers. Time-out allows an adult to interrupt and prevent the continuation of aggressive acts, while giving minimal immediate attention to the aggressor. It is best to apply time-out in a matter-of-fact way, without reprimand or anger. Time-out provides a separation and a break that allows both the aggressor and the victim to calm down in what most likely was an emotionally charged moment. Children learn to compose themselves independently in time-out before returning to the group. However, you need to explain and demonstrate to children the rules and procedures of time-out and the reasons for its use and guard against excessive use or the misuse of it. Whatever the individualized plan chosen, base them on careful observations. Put them in writing to maximize consistency, and revise them as needed, depending on results. It is also helpful to have regular contact with the child’s family to exchange information, discuss progress or problems, and work together in a consistent way to help the child.


4. Provide extra support to children who show aggressive-behaviour patterns. It is important to remember that the child needs emotional support in conjunction with any behaviour-change plan. While constantly adhering and following the behaviourchange plan, let the children know that their feelings and needs are important, and that you are working with them to make changes in their habits. Children must understand that violence toward others will not be allowed in class and that adults will help them learn new ways to solve problems.


International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Guide for Preventing and Responding to School Violence. IACP. VA, USA.

Slaby, R. G. Rodell, C. W. Arezzo, D. & Handrix, K. (1995). Early Violence Prevention Tools for Teachers of Young Children. National Association for the Education of Young Children, Washington. D.C.


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