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Responding to a Student's Threatening Behavior

Calming Down An Agitated Student

If you are waiting for Public Safety or have not yet called, here are some suggestions for calming down an agitated student

  • If appropriate, instruct the student to calm down, and/or sit down.
  • Another option is to ask the student to move with you away from a volatile environment as this may help diffuse the student’s anger. Make sure you walk to an area that is visible to others, in case the student becomes aggressive, and that you stay close to the area to which you have called security.
  • Stay out of the student’s personal space. Keep at least four feet between you and the student. Do not corner or touch the student.
  • Listen carefully to what the student is saying. This will convey that you are genuinely interested in helping.
  • Respond appropriately.

When talking to an agitated student:

  • Introduce yourself if you do not know the student already.
  • Maintain a calm and reassuring voice. Speak calmly, but don’t do all the talking. Allow the student to vent.
  • Ask questions; this shows that you are concerned. When asking questions, use the student’s name.
  • Listen carefully to the student’s concerns and take them seriously. Paraphrasing what the student says can help show that you are listening.
  • If emotions escalate, acknowledge them. “I can see that you’re angry about the ...”
  • Maintain appropriate eye contact. A direct and uninterrupted stare may feel threatening to the student. Be natural in your gestures and speaking tone.