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DE-ESCALATING DANGEROUS & THREATENING BEHAVIOR IN & OUT OF THE CLASSROOM Dr. Brian Van Brunt Director of Counseling WKU Laura Bennett,

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Presentation on theme: "DE-ESCALATING DANGEROUS & THREATENING BEHAVIOR IN & OUT OF THE CLASSROOM Dr. Brian Van Brunt Director of Counseling WKU Laura Bennett,"— Presentation transcript:

1 DE-ESCALATING DANGEROUS & THREATENING BEHAVIOR IN & OUT OF THE CLASSROOM Dr. Brian Van Brunt Director of Counseling WKU brian.vanbrunt@wku.edu Laura Bennett, M.Ed. Student Conduct Officer at Harper lauraaebennett@gmail.com

2 Introduction 2 Danger and Crisis Prevention and Backup Prevention and Backup How to Use the BIT How to Use the BIT Five Steps to Manage Aggression How to Motivate and Persuade

3 3 Welcome to the first of a three part series addressing student behavior in and out of the classroom: (1)Dangerous (2)Disruptive (3)Distracting/Annoying Through a series of case scenarios and practical advice, we will share with you useful tools needed to identify, intervene and manage potentially dangerous and violent students at your college or university. Introduction

4 Dangerous Physical Behaviors: Physical assault such as pushing, shoving or punching Throwing objects or slamming doors Storming out of the classroom or office when upset Self-injurious behavior such as cutting or burning self during class Prolonged non-verbal passive aggressive behavior such as sitting with arms crossed, glaring or staring at professor Refusing to engage in conversation or follow instructions Stalking or harassing behaviors – following with intent and effect of intimidation 4 Introduction

5 Dangerous Communications: Conversations that are designed to upset other students such as descriptions of weapons, killing or death Direct communicated threat to professor, staff or another student such as: “I am going to kick your ass” or “If you say that again, I will end you.” Bullying comments focused on campus community members 5 Introduction

6 Possibly Dangerous Communications: Psychotic, delusional or rambling speech Arrogant, entitled, rude or disrespectful talk to professor, staff or other students. Racist or otherwise fixated thoughts such as “Women should be barefoot and pregnant”, “Gays are an abomination to God and should be punished”, “Muslims are all terrorists and should be wiped off the earth” Objectifying language that depersonalizes the authority figures or other students. Refusal to speak or respond to questions or directives from staff or resident advisor. 6 Introduction

7 Disruptive Behavior Examples Student misuse of technology in the classroom Frequent interruption of professor while talking and asking of non-relevant, off-topic questions Poor personal hygiene that isolates student from others Aggressive attempts to date others on campus Distracting/Annoying Behavior Examples Student has a grating personality Student is not prepared or motivated for class Student tells odd or strange jokes much below his developmental age Monopolization of staff time, lack of empathy or respect for others 7 Introduction

8 8 Crisis

9 9 David Following an evening class, David waits until all the other students left and then confronts his instructor. He stands very close to her and in a loud voice tells her that he needs an A in the class or she will be sorry. As she attempts to get around him, he blocks the door and raises his voice, saying “How dare you try to leave when I am speaking to you! All you teachers are the same – you don’t care about students here! You just want a cakewalk and a paycheck. Well, you will be sorry!” He bangs his fist on the desk closest to him. Crisis

10 1)Realize this is an emergency and requires a different set of actions and outcomes than you use in everyday practice. 2)Achieve the proper mindset prior to responding. 3)Keep focused on your goal. Three Rules of Crisis Intervention Crisis

11 Understand that any crisis intervention begins with a realization that you are now in an emergency. What are some ways (physical, mental, emotional) you know you are in an emergency? 1) Emergency! Crisis

12 Questions for all Emergencies: Are you safe?Do you have access to backup? Do you have the resources you need to respond? What do you need to document and to whom?Crisis

13 DeBecker’s book describes the need for those in executive protection to have a “mind like water.” This mental state allows the first responder to remain calm, bring their best resources to bear on the situation and be creative in their response. Like water—know when to be solid, fluid and gaseous. 2) Proper Mindset De Becker, G., Taylor, T. & Marquart, J. (2008). Just 2 Seconds: Using time and space to defeat assassins. Gavin De Becker and Associates. Crisis

14 When immediate safety is in question, there is little room for listening or offering choices. Letting a student possess a weapon, ignoring the threat or endangering others are not options. Fast compliance is required. Firm and Limit Setting Crisis

15 Compliance may be needed, but without a direct safety threat there is more time to build rapport and connection with the student. Look for commonalities, offer choices and explain potential options. Flexible and Creative Crisis

16 There are times where we are not “taking the lead” in a crisis intervention. Our role of backup may feel like being on the sidelines for time being--- but it is an essential function. Take notes, observe, look for opportunities and alternatives. Observing or Backup Crisis

17 We know when responding to a crisis it is essential to control biology as well as our thoughts. John Byrne’s Aggression Management system describes the biological changes (rapid heart rate, increased breathing, adrenaline, increased blood pressure) that accompany the escalation phase. If we control our biology through cycle breathing, we can regain our ability to calmly be more creative and in control of our thoughts. Be at your Best www.aggressionmanagement.comCrisis

18 Breathe in slowly to the count of 1…2…3…4… Hold your breath to the count of 1…2… Breathe out slowly to the count of 1…2…3…4… Hold your breath to the count of 1…2… 18 www.aggressionmanagement.com

19 Steven Covey wrote the famous, best selling book--- Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. One key habit is to “begin with the end in mind” When entering an emergency, stay focused on your goal. Ask yourself “Is what I am currently doing/saying getting me closer or further from my goal?” 3) Focus on the goal Covey, S. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Crisis

20 20 Prevention and Backup Prevention and Backup

21 21 Sarah During the last meeting of the day for one of the campus academic advisors/counselors, the student Sarah begins to cry and appears out of touch with where she is. She climbs under the table and won’t come out, while yelling incoherently. She appears scared, but her facial expression is contorted and she doesn’t seem to be talking to the staff member directly. Prevention and Backup Prevention and Backup

22 22 Invest Time in Learning about your Campus Partners: Campus Police or Safety Procedures Counseling Emergency Response Drills and educational opportunities “What would happen if?” Prevention and Backup Prevention and Backup

23 23 Invest Time in Your Own Safety Exits and entrances Campus shortcuts Traffic patterns and security Escort service and lighting Room layout and features Office safety assessment Vulnerable times Acknowledge the value and limitations of protection orders, silent alarms, etc. Prevention and Backup Prevention and Backup

24 24 What are your backups? Always have a plan B Be realistic about your limitations Determine ways to step back and call for help “Red folder” or “diet coke” code words Know who you can trust Prevention and Backup Prevention and Backup

25 25 How to Use the BIT

26 26 Brandon Following a meeting at the financial aid office, Brandon emails the staff member, cursing at her and calling her an idiot, and tells her he wants to talk to her boss, “or else.” During an appointment the next day with the Director of Financial Aid, Brandon begins the conversation nicely, but ends by telling her “All you women keep fooling me. You will be sorry. Someday I’ll be in charge and you won’t even be able to do anything.” How to Use the BIT

27 27 What’s a BIT? Behavioral Intervention Teams or Campus Threat Assessment Teams exist on most campuses and strive to intervene before individuals engage in targeted violence. Teams are designed to evaluate information and assess the likelihood that person may engage in a future act of violence towards a specific person or group of people. How to Use the BIT

28 What does the BIT do? Collects identification of at-risk student behaviors Conducts careful analysis and understanding the context Provides a collaborative approach to developing an action plan How to Use the BIT

29 BIT’s help the campus to: Identify threatening and dangerous behavior, thoughts and attitudes Develop threat assessment techniques to assess threat Take action or provide guidance to those who can Track information over time How to Use the BIT

30 Why contact the BIT? Report a possible threat you want assessed Report how you addressed a situation for tracking Seek guidance about how to intervene Ensure that the BIT has all the information about a student Report a possible concern before it escalates Report behavior that might not be a violation How to Use the BIT

31 31 What happens in meetings? Typically 6-8 individuals discuss at-risk students (and sometimes faculty and staff) during 1-2 hour long weekly meetings Information is usually updated about each student Teams often discuss the best way to engage the student, while taking precautions for safety The focus of the discussion is geared towards prevention and intervention, not reaction and punishment FERPA and other laws are respected How to Use the BIT

32 Who serves on a BIT? Deans of Students (114 teams), often synonymous with Vice Presidents of Student Affairs (61) Counseling Center Directors (153 teams) Directors of Departments of Public Safety (139 teams) Housing Directors (125 teams) Student Conduct Officers (112 teams) Health Services Directors (81 teams) Faculty Representatives (72 teams) University of Louisville’s 2010 survey How to Use the BIT

33 Successful teams: Increase information sharing Walk in each other’s shoes Task/goal oriented to solution Cooperate and collaborate Go beyond basic department responsibilities Influence campus culture of reporting and addressing How to Use the BIT

34 Do NOT use your BIT for: An in-the-moment emergency or crisis A dumping ground so that you don’t have to deal with things Obvious violations that should go through your campus conduct process Replacement of counselors or other campus resources How to Use the BIT

35 What to report to the BIT? Factual, observable information – this can include how behaviors affected you or others Details about a student’s behavior Information about the context Any attempts to confront or contain the behavior The individual’s response Information about the individual – other concerns, whether the person has support, etc. How to Use the BIT

36 Student Family Therapy/ADA Tutoring/ Resources FacultyConduct HealthStaff/DOS How to Use the BIT

37 Recent HEHMA/JED release on campus teams http://www.jedfoundation.org/campus_teams_guide.pdf How to Use the BIT

38 38 The Handbook for Campus Threat Assessment & Management Teams How to Use the BIT

39 39 Ending Campus Violence: New Approaches to Prevention How to Use the BIT

40 40 National Association of Behavioral Intervention Teams (NaBITA) How to Use the BIT

41 41 How to Motivate and Persuade

42 42 Jack Jack picks up his first exam at the end of class and sees that he got a D. Jack begins to panic and flaps his arms wildly while panting. He makes eye contact with several students and the instructor, but doesn’t speak. He continues to breathe in and out rapidly while flapping his arms. How to Motivate and Persuade

43 Once we establish our goal, the next step is motivating and persuading the student towards compliance. How to Motivate and Persuade

44 When motivating someone: Understand people are more likely to follow our direction when they trust us. People trust if they feel understood and listened to. We trust people who are similar to us. Find ways to build a connection between yourself and the student so that he/she can identify with you, or at least identify with your direction. How to Motivate and Persuade

45 When persuading someone: Remember that 93% of emotional communication is through our tone, inflection and body language. It isn’t so much what we say, but how we say it. Give clear choices when possible. We can take the police cruiser or ambulance. It is your choice which one (not whether or not you go). How to Motivate and Persuade

46 There may be things that you give in order to achieve compliance. Weigh the cost versus the benefit. -Allowing a smoke -Getting them some food or water -Calling a friend or parents -Moving a car or assist with parking Be willing to be flexible in order to reach your goals. How to Motivate and Persuade

47 47 The driving motivation for most upset people is fear. They are afraid of failing a test, not getting forms in on time—maybe even be forced to leave college Understand where they are coming from first and then you can be more effective Listen…..Listen some more Tell them what they just said Then listen to make sure you got it right How to Motivate and Persuade

48 48 Start with a calm mindset and develop rapport Realize the way you see things isn’t always the way they see things* Build a bridge between you and them How to Motivate and Persuade

49 49 Five Steps to Manage Aggression

50 50 Anne In the student lounge, Anne is talking on the phone and her voice starts to escalate. Soon she throws the phone across the room, shattering it on the wall. She then goes to the nearest table and knocks over a chair. She bangs her hands on the table and then begins to pace around the lounge. Several students appear scared and leave the area, others seem frozen in place. Five Steps to Manage Aggression

51 51 Steps to diffusing dangerous situations between you and the aggressor 1.Get the student away from the crowd. 2.Begin with a positive statement, not a negative one (constructive, not punitive). 3.Explain the documented issues in a neutral and reflective way (without sarcasm). www.aggressionmanagement.com Five Steps to Manage Aggression

52 52 Steps to diffusing dangerous situations between you and the aggressor 4.Explain that their present behavior is not in their best interest. 5.Ask how we can work together to solve this problem. Consider the miracle question “What outcome would you like to see?” www.aggressionmanagement.com Five Steps to Manage Aggression

53 53 Things to avoid when working with dangerous students – Assume that they will always do what they say. – Assume they will not do what they say. – Minimize their behaviors, words, or concerns. – Debate them about the details of their complaint. – Ignore behavior because “they are a good person.” – Letting things escalate without addressing them. Final Thoughts

54 54 Things to do when working with dangerous students – Plan for the 1%, 100% of the time. – Remain calm and take things step by step. – Take time to prepare ahead of time and minimize risk. Remember you can minimize, not usually eliminate, risk. – Work with the student, address the behavior. – Err on the side of caution and call police, inform the BIT, or take other action if you think it is warranted. Final Thoughts

55 Questions? Brian Van BruntLaura Bennett brian.vanbrunt@wku.edulauraaebennett@gmail.com


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