How to prevent and respond to school fights

A range of policies and training techniques can change the way schools prevent or respond to physical altercations between students. School administrators can learn effective strategies on how to stop school fights by participating in training seminars from companies such as the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI). Here are a few school violence prevention tips.

Before it happens

Because fights don’t always erupt in classrooms, administrators need teachers to watch for trouble brewing throughout the school building. This requires creating policies that detail where teachers need to be at critical times, which include:

  1. when students arrive in the morning
  2. between classes in the hallways
  3. during lunch
  4. at dismissal

When it happens

Unfortunately, even the most vigilant educators can’t prevent every fight from happening. In Illinois, 25 dean’s assistants and administrators at School District U-46 participated in CPI’s school violence prevention training. After learning how to stop school fights from escalating, administrators created a four-step procedure:

Read: Hope in a hostile school environment

1. The closest teacher or administrator intervenes and attempts to separate the fighting students.

2. That teacher yells for adult assistance and if none is immediately available, dispatches a student to the central office.

3. Once several educators are on the scene, they escort the students separately to the central office.

4. Someone in the central office uses a walkie-talkie to notify the assistant principal, who discusses the dispute with students and takes any necessary disciplinary action.

These administrators also learned other techniques from the CPI training, such as:

Wait, if possible, for a team of adults to arrive or for a fight to wane before intervening physically. Do not jump into a fight alone. Instead, try to disperse students who are watching. Staff must press a call button (found in every classroom) that summons help from the central office.

Deflect blows before they land. When one girl at District U-46’s Streamwood High tried to hit another with a lock, a dean’s assistant saw her arm come back and “used a deflection technique to spin her around,” says Principal Terri Lozier. If the dean’s assistant had not stopped her, the aggressor would have been expelled and the other student likely injured.

Respond to students who helped intervene. Tell these students they made a good choice when they stopped the fighting and thank them for doing so.

Break up the scene. Take the combatants to separate areas as soon as possible.

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