WellCat Counseling Center

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.