Preventing violence and fighting

Most schools have at least one or two pupils who are unacceptably violent and who use their physical strength to dominate other children. Quite often, such pupils have a low status at school and very little self-belief. Sometimes their behaviour is reinforced at home, which can make it difficult to discuss the problem with parents/carers.

The following approaches can help prevent violence:

  • Make it clear to pupils and their parents/carers that no kind of violence or fighting is allowed in school. Your school probably has rules about this, with a strict hierarchy of sanctions and punishments.
  • If you have to deal with the violence, stay calm and give the impression of being completely in control.
  • When handling a violent situation, ask questions to encourage a verbal, rather than a physical, response, to calm pupils and make them consider their situation. For example, “Aren’t you already in enough trouble?”
  • Use behaviour monitoring schemes and clear goals for pupils who are violent.
  • Ask your school to request help from external support agencies.
  • Talk to pupils about alternative courses of action and different ways of solving problems. A trained counsellor would be good for this.
  • Praise violent children when they do not react aggressively.
  • Make the participants in a fight write down what happened and why. These statements can be used in discussions of the incident.
  • Comments such as “I am really disappointed in you and I hate to see you getting into trouble” can make violent pupils feel guilty about their actions.
NAPTA, 10 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 1JP — tel 01223 224930 — email