Aggression and Potential Violence

Some of the most difficult situations involve dealing with potential danger to yourself 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, hardworking, 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 emotional expression, an inability to verbally express himself or 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. These indicators include 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.

If you encounter an aggressive or potentially violent student: