Preventing and Reacting to Fighting in School

For Schools, Social-Emotional Health, Students / /

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The frequency of fighting in schools has been on the rise. The CDC found in 2019 during a survey that “8% of high school students had been in a physical fight on school property one or more times during the 12 months before the survey.” As school leaders, it can feel daunting to address fighting as there are so many factors that contribute to an altercation. Here are some ideas for preventing fighting and ideas on how to respond to fights.

Elizabeth Janca, experienced school administrator, licensed professional counselor, and Possip Reporter shares ways to prevent and respond to fighting in school.

Preventing Fighting

We can influence several factors that reduce the amount of fighting on campus. The most influential factors include relationships with students, strong classroom management, ways to identify students who seem to be struggling, and anonymous reporting. 

Strong culture and relationships with students will allow for a foundation of rapport. Creating a safe and comfortable environment for students invites them to feel safe and want to approach teachers and administrators when they’re struggling. Without this, students will more likely avoid seeking support. Additionally, these relationships help adults to identify students who appear frustrated or exhibit a behavioral change and pull them aside to talk. 

Essential for student safety in general, strong classroom management can lend itself to decreasing unpleasant student engagement with one another. Set clear expectations early and stay consistent with those expectations. Consider strong relationships and rapport with students as one element of successful classroom management.

Create ways to identify students who seem to be struggling early. Students who need help can receive interventions like a referral to the counselor or frequent check-ins with a teacher with whom they have strong rapport. This can be done through MTSS, grade-level meetings, and tracking trends through your discipline system. For specific guidance on Reacting to Bullying, check out this Possip article. 

Anonymous reporting can be helpful in receiving information about rumored planned fights. With these reports, you can connect with the potential students to provide support and conflict resolution before it escalates.