Aggression and Potential Violence
Some of the most difficult situations involve dealing with potential danger to self
or others, especially when the danger is associated with aggressive behavior. Aggressive
behavior occurs in many contexts and varies from verbal abuse to severe physical
abuse. In most situations it is difficult to predict aggression until the person’s
behavior changes. For example, a person could be quiet, reserved, hard working,
and intelligent but prone to hostile aggressive outbursts. Another person could
have social resentment, a lack of moral inhibitions, suspiciousness, and intermittent
explosive episodes. There could be potential for violence in a person with rigid
control of his/her emotional expressions, an inability to verbally express him/herself,
and over-controlled responses to hostility. A person with no history of violence
may have aggressive outbursts that occur only in association with substance intoxication
or substance withdrawal.
Though violence cannot be predicted, research has pointed to several indicators
of potential for aggression against others. Some of the indicators of being violence-prone
are an unstable school or vocational history; a history of juvenile violence and/or
substance abuse; prior history of family violence or abuse; fascination with weapons;
a pattern of cruelty to animals as a child or adolescent; and an inability to control
aggressive impulses. When you encounter an aggressive or potentially violent student:
- Determine if you feel safe with the student. If you feel unsafe, remove yourself
from the situation and call 911 (9-911 from campus phones). 2. Remain in an open
area, preferably with an exit door near you.
- Directly and clearly explain the
behaviors which are acceptable and unacceptable.
- Instruct the student to lower
his/her voice if s/he is screaming.
- Stay calm and gain control of the situation
by clearly setting limits and addressing the issue of concern.
- Tell him/her to
make an appointment with you after s/he has calmed down.
- Debrief the situation
with a colleague.
- Contact the Coordinator of Student Mental Health Service (893-8920)
in the Dean of Students office.
- Consult with Counseling Services (893-4411).
- When appropriate, contact the assistant dean of students (893-4467) in the Office
of Judicial Affairs.
- When appropriate, contact the assistant director of judicial
affairs coordinator (893-5016) who serves as hate crime response coordinator for
- When appropriate, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Sexual
Harassment/Title IX Compliance, 3217 Phelps Hall, (893-2701)
Remain in a place you do not feel is safe.
- Engage in a screaming match.
Make promises you can not keep.
- Ignore warning signs that the person’s anger
- Threaten, dare, taunt or back a student into a corner.
Allow yourself to be backed into a corner.
- Touch the student or crowd his/her
- Meet alone with the student.