Early Warning Signs of Violent Behavior (page 2)
Experts have identified numerous warning signs that a child or adolescent may possibly be contemplating violent actions against others. Any one of them alone is unlikely to signal a violent attack, but you should consult with school administrators or specially trained professionals if you see several of them in combination.
Social withdrawal. Over time, a student interacts less and less frequently with teachers and with all or most peers.
Excessive feelings of isolation, rejection, or persecution. A student may directly or indirectly express the belief that he or she is friendless, disliked, or unfairly "picked on."
Rapid decline in academic performance. A student shows a dramatic change in academic performance and seems unconcerned about doing well. Cognitive and physical factors (e.g., learning disabilities, ineffective study skills, brain injury) have been ruled out as the cause of the decline.
Poor coping skills. A student has little ability to deal effectively with frustration, takes the smallest affront personally, and has trouble "bouncing back" after minor disappointments.
Lack of anger control. A student frequently responds with uncontrolled anger to even the slightest injustice and may misdirect anger at innocent bystanders.
Sense of superiority, self-centeredness, and lack of empathy. A student depicts himself or herself as "smarter" or in some other way better than peers, is preoccupied with his or her own needs, and has little regard for the needs of others.
Lengthy grudges. A student is unforgiving of others' transgressions, even after considerable time has elapsed.
Violent themes in drawings and written work. Violence predominates in a student's artwork, stories, and journal entries, and perhaps certain individuals (e.g., a parents or particular classmate) are regularly targeted in these fantasies. (Keep in mind that occasional violence in writing and art is not unusual, especially for boys.)
Intolerance of individual and group differences. A student shows intense disdain and prejudice toward people of a certain race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.
History of violence, aggression, and other discipline problems. A student has a long record of seriously inappropriate behavior extending over several years.
Association with violent peers. A student associates regularly with a gang or other antisocial peer group.
Inappropriate role models. A student may speak with admiration about Satan, Hitler, Osama bin Laden, or some other malevolent figure.
Excessive alcohol or drug use. A student who abuses alcohol or drugs may have reduced self-control. In some cases substance abuse signals significant mental illness.
From Educational Psychology: Developing Learners (5th ed., p. 508, Figure 14.4), by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod, © 2006. Adapted by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ. Warning signs based on Dwyer, Osher, & Warger, 1998; O'Toole, 2000.
Inappropriate access to firearms. A student has easy access to guns and ammunition and may regularly practice using them.
Threats of violence. A student has openly expressed an intent to harm someone else. This warning sign alone requires immediate action.
© ______ 2007, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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