• Secondary intervention strategies,
such as mentoring programs, that target the 5 percent to 15
percent of students who are at risk for behavior problems
because they are starting to display behavioral or academic
• Tertiary strategies, or wraparound services, directed at
the 1 percent to 7 percent of students who have intense and
chronic behavioral and/or academic problems. One tertiary
intervention that has been effective in decreasing undesirable
student behaviors is functional assessment-based interventions
(Conroy et al., 2005; Kern et al., 2004; Lane et al., 2010). These
highly individualized interventions target the reasons why
problem behaviors occur. Rather than focusing on reductive
procedures that stop behavior problems from occurring,
teachers determine what is motivating a student to behave in an
unsafe or undesirable manner.
In brief, behavior serves one of two main functions: to obtain
(positive reinforcement) or to avoid (negative reinforcement)
attention, activities or tasks, or tangible or sensory conditions.
The APA Task Force on Classroom Violence Directed Against
Teachers (2011) recommended functional assessment-based
interventions as a promising practice for addressing behaviors
that may lead to aggression against educators.
Of course, teachers themselves play pivotal roles in reducing
school violence through their classroom practices. Research
suggests that teachers should engage in deliberate evidence-based practices to reduce the likelihood of aggression or
violence in their classrooms (Lane et al., 2010). For example,
clearly stating classroom and school rules and being consistent
in modeling and rewarding positive behaviors are strategies that
can improve student behavior.
Teachers can also improve classroom management by
being more flexible and communicating clearly with students
to reduce their uncertainties about assignments or other
class work. Also, teachers can build on student strengths —
such as ethnic identity — rather than focusing exclusively on
weaknesses or using punitive methods (e.g., McMahon & Watts,
Although there are evidence-based practices for proactive
threat responses, there is little guidance for intervening after an
incident. Depending upon the level of violence, the top priority
should be reporting the incident, then seeking professional
treatment as determined by a school’s policy.
One excellent source of post-trauma guidelines for
teachers and administrators is the U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA)
Another rich source of information is Preventing and
Educators should be prepared to identify early warning
Addressing Violent Behavior: Taking Proactive Steps for School
Safety (NEA & NEA Health Information Network, 2009). This
resource describes prevention approaches for making working
and learning environments safe for all educators and students.
To this end, as with any workplace incident of violence, teachers
must resist the fear of stigma associated with victimization and
earnestly seek adequate debriefing and counseling.
signs of aggressive and violent threats (see www.apa.org/
helpcenter/ warning-signs.aspx) and react from an effective
Implementing effective classroom instructional and
management strategies allows the teacher to have direct control
at the teacher level and also puts the teacher in a position
to control the classroom. Teachers may implement social/
behavioral programs (such as violence prevention, anti-bullying,
conflict resolution and classroom management programs) to
provide students with clear expectations and appropriate social
and behavioral skills to manage anger, resolve conflict and
improve classroom norms and environment (Henry et al., 2000).
Research suggests that the more students know about violence
prevention, the less likely they are to be aggressive over time
(McMahon, Todd, et al., 2013). Programs that facilitate effective
classroom management, as well as social and emotional learning,
can enhance academic engagement and achievement (e.g.,
Weissberg & O’Brien, 2004) and reduce violence and aggression
in the classroom (Wilson & Lipsey, 2007).
Students’ academic engagement can serve as a protective
factor against engagement in risky behaviors (O’Farrell &
Morrison, 2003). Teachers are encouraged to consistently review
literature on student motivation and implement strategies that
lead to improved behavior since students who are motivated
and engaged with academic tasks may be less likely to become
distracted and act out in aggressive ways (Anderman & Patrick,
2012; Kaplan & Maehr, 1999).
In general, structure (i.e., clear rules and consequences),
involvement (i.e., showing care and interest in students on a
professional level without being too informal) and autonomy
support (i.e., giving students choices) contribute to student
engagement in education (Connell, 1991). Professional
development that focuses on pedagogy and how instruction
can be designed to engage all students may lead all students to
become more engaged with academics and to be less likely to
engage in violent behaviors (Scott, Nelson, & Liaupsin, 2001).
In addition, there is a need to help students feel accepted and
included and to encourage them to be active in their schools,
as these students are more likely to be engaged in learning
(Anderman & Freeman, 2004; Osterman, 2000). Classroom-level strategies for enhancing academic motivation (see Vannest,
Stroud, & Reynolds, 2011) may help reduce violence among
students as well.
There are many evidence-based resources that can help
teachers with classroom instruction and management, violence