The Violent Student

Violence related to emotional distress is very rare and typically occurs only when the student is completely frustrated, feels powerless, and is unable to exert sufficient self-control. The adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," best applies here. This behavior is often associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs.


  • Prevent total frustration and helplessness by quickly and calmly acknowledging the intensity of the situation, e.g., "I can see you’re really upset and may be tempted to lash out."
  • Explain clearly and directly what behaviors are acceptable, e.g., "You certainly have the right to be angry, but breaking things is not OK."
  • Get necessary help (other staff, University Police, Psychological Counseling, etc.)
  • Stay safe: have easy access to a door; keep furniture between you and the student. Do not see the person alone if you fear for your safety.


  • Ignore warning signs that the person is about to explode, e.g., yelling, screaming, clenched fists, threats
  • Threaten, dare, taunt, or corner student
  • Touch the student.