Counseling Service

The Aggressive or Potentially Violent Student

Aggression varies from threats to verbal abuse to physical abuse and violence. It is very difficult to predict aggression and violence.

Some indicators of potential violence include:

  • paranoia / mistrust
  • an unstable school or vocational history
  • a history of juvenile violence or substance abuse
  • prior history of violence or abuse
  • fascination with weapons
  • history of cruelty to animals as a child or adolescent
  • impulse control problems

  • Assess your level of safety. Call University Police at (301) 405-3333 (or 911) if you feel in danger.
  • Remain in an open area with a visible means of escape.
  • Explain to the student the behaviors that are unacceptable.
  • Stay calm and gain control of the situation by setting limits.
  • Use a time-out strategy (that is, ask the student to reschedule a meeting with you once she/he has calmed down) if the student refuses to cooperate and remains aggressive and/or agitated.
  • Consult with professionals on the Counseling Center Warmline: (301) 314-7651.
  • Consult with or report to the University’s Behavior Evaluation and Threat Assessment (BETA) Team.
  • Staying in a situation in which you feel unsafe.
  • Meeting alone with the student.
  • Engaging in a screaming match or behaving in other ways that escalate anxiety and aggression.
  • Ignoring signs that the student’s anger is escalating.
  • Touching the student or crowding his/her sense of personal space.
  • Ignoring a gut reaction that you are in danger.