Aggressive-Student Policy

March, 2022, Pines Lakes Elementary School, Florida: Police were called on campus after a 5-year-old boy reportedly attacked his classroom teacher. The incident started when two children, ages 4 & 5, began throwing things & knocking over chairs.

Once separated, with help from facility members, the classroom teacher escorted the 5-year-old student to a time-out room where he reportedly threw his body weight against her, causing her to fall & hit her head. Losing consciousness, she was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Pines Lakes Elementary soon thereafter released a statement stressing: Safety of staff & students is a top priority. The injured teacher says, Their actions did not show that.

International Schools, by comparison, report far fewer incidences of student-on-student violence &/or aggression directed towards teachers than do public schools. Yet, violence happens & often without a clear-cut policy for how to deal with it. An ISR Member tells us:

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I am a teacher at a Tier-1 school where admin is reluctant to create a “policy” for violent behavior, student-to-student or student-to-teacher. Unfortunately, I have seen an uptick in dysregulated children. Teachers feel unsupported and have to tolerate being hit, kicked, etc. We recently raised this issue in a meeting with our HOS and received a reluctant response. Again, this is a reputable, high-profile school!

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Is it fear of losing a well-paying customer, or fear of retaliatory measures from an influential parent that cowers some International Schools into hesitancy in enacting a violent-behavior policy? More than a few School Reviews hosted on ISR go so far as to say: The inmates are running the asylum.

Some years ago ISR documented a situation in which the parent of a high school student, sent to time-out for fighting, used his influence to invalidate the exit Visa of the teacher who dared to reprimand his over-indulged teenage son. Not aware of the situation, the teacher was detained at Immigration & prevented from leaving the country. The boy’s father equated a simple time out with putting his son in the Abu Ghraib prison! Weeks later the teacher managed to exit the country, never to return.

ISR asks: Does YOUR International School have documented consequences for violent, aggressive behavior? If so, ISR asks you to Share the details of that policy in an effort to help schools with no policy create one of their own. No one deserves to be hit, kicked, or detained for doing their job.

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

18 thoughts on “Aggressive-Student Policy

  1. I find the article’s statement that aggressive incidents are rare overseas to be ridiculous. In the majority of my overseas postings, some students were aggressive to each other and sometimes even towards teachers and staff. Often school administration looked the other way or refused to address the violence out of fear of losing a student or creating an angry parent who will speak badly about the school. Each body in the seat is income for a school even in a “non-profit” school. Another thing that gets “swept under the rug” at overseas schools are issues that in our home countries would be considered child safeguarding alerts. For example, parents who beat their children or withhold food as a form of “discipline”. I found this to be especially true of schools in countries that don’t have safeguarding policies similar to developed countries.

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    1. Totally agree. One student told me her father hit her mother and visibly shook and became distressed, whilst doing so. When I reported it I was told the child was just telling tales. One week later the parents visited and said they were separating??? Rug sweeping is universal in independent schools!
      Student aggression happens everywhere but in an independent school, if it is from emotional or learning issues it has more possibility to be dealt with effectively due to smaller class sizes and greater support, that’s all. All schools I have worked at internationally have been very selective about student drug taking, sexual assault, misogyny and aggression. It is all pretty poor and unethical.

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  2. I have told my students to cuss me out in English so that I could enjoy the entertainment they were providing me. Once they finish I continue my lesson. I don’t really care what students say to me in class. After all, it is their education that is being wasted.

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  3. The main reason teachers leave the profession in droves is student behaviour and lack of admin support which is why I left state teaching in Australia for private schools and international schools. Find a school with good kids and administrators. There are plenty out there in the international setting.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I did the international school thing in China for 5 years. The trouble that many of us have with it is that it is difficult to make it a long-term option. In China, a foreigner cannot get a mortgage for a property, cannot buy investment securities or even get a simple credit card or auto loan from a bank.

      Add to it the student behavior issues you were mentioning (made worse by Covid everywhere) and very low pay (teachers earn less than food servers in the west in many places) and the entire career becomes unviable. That’s why I’m glad I got an MBA and left the field entirely. I’d like to perhaps explore the business side of education someday. As for classroom teaching ever again, forget it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. International schools struggle to find the balance between quality, business and education because the majority of them are for-profit. Gone are the days where international schools are full of diplomat and high calibre students. There are plenty of international schools that realistically are very expensive public (non-fee paying) schools full of expat children whose families simply wouldn’t have been able to afford private school in their own home countries.

    It also doesn’t help that both leaders and teachers don’t know how to handle, more importantly work with certain cultures and SES status. My team and I were all new to the school and couldn’t understand why teachers and leaders of the school were cowaring at meeting (or calling) the parents of students whose behaviour was, put it simply, either racist or violent. Yes, there were plenty who waved their citizenship rights and did their usual “I’ll get you kick-out the country!” But with every departmental decision made, stood our ground, used the rules and laws of our host country. Why it took for everyone else in the school to figure this out was beyond anyone’s guess. Call it inexperienced, inepth or perhps they simply just parked themselves as furniture…. Who knows?!

    The school may not have effective or non-existent BfL policies which doesn’t make life easy on the teachers. But that doesn’t mean you as a teacher with the help of your HoD can’t manage it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My school (China) has no fixed behavior policy – it’s left up to departments to figure it all out. On the whole, that was OK pre-COVID, but the result of kids being in and out of home / school / whatever is that behavior has significantly worsened. The problem is that when this is raised as an issue, it just disappears. Pre-2020, I never had to reprimand a student for talking back to me; post-2020, it happens at least once a week, if not more.

    Part of the problem is that, in China, it’s virtually impossible for kids to be kicked out of even private schools. For that to happen, you need the agreement of parents which can be difficult to get unless there is a ‘face saving’ way out. So the school muddles along, with the misbehaving kids not fitting in because the others don’t like them, the teachers behaving warily around those kids, all because the parents *might* be a bit embarrassed by their kid’s behavior. Nobody benefits, least of all the kid whose behavior isn’t being dealt with in school and is being ignored at home.

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  6. Very good school in southern Spain (part of a big corporation) was unbearable to work in as the admin preferred to make friends with students rather than manage them. This resulted in teachers being verbally abused by students in front of the whole class. English teacher got called b***h several times (and this was the least what happened). When this issue was raised, the response was, ‘oh you know this is what kids are like in Spain, very lively’ …

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  7. I worked in a prestigious school in North East Thailand where one kindergarten student was violent towards other students on many occasions including drawing blood. Despite reporting to the head of department on each occasion and eventually the school director too, nothing was done despite the other students living in fear of the boy.

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  8. I taught at a well know school in Guatemala City. A high school kid in one of my classes told me to go “f*** myself” in regards a disagreement we had. I reported the incident to the office. The boy was the son of a very wealthy family. Together, in the school counselor’s office the counselor reminded the boy such behavior called for a 2 day suspension. To my dismay she turned to the boy and asked him to pick two days that would be convenient for him to miss school. He picked Friday and Monday. In essence he got a 4 day weekend and his teachers where then required to help him make up any work he missed. I won’t name the school because this was many, many years ago and none of the same admin will be there today. At another school there was a boy who was constantly slapping the ass of my teenage daughter. The principal refused to do anything. One day after he slapped her ass she turned around and kneed him in the balls. He doubled over in pain. I was later called to the office and asked to control my daughter. I just shook my head and walked out. International school admin have been spineless in my experience.

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    1. These Admin that behaved that way May not still work at that school, so I understand why you wouldn’t want to make the school; however, you should name the people who allowed this behavior and who sided with the bullies rather than the victims so that no one will accidentally work with those people again in any other school. You do no one any favors by concealing their names.

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    2. I would name the school and the people but this was over 20 years ago. At the time they were all way older then me and I’m sure none of them are still on the circuit, let alone this earth.

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  9. Far too many so-called “international” schools are international in name only. Basically they are local schools turning education into a cash cow for indifferent owners or boards doing their best to avoid being in the spotlight, unless it boosts their profits. Ex-pats are trophy staff whose principle purpose and use is to “attract” parents under the false pretence of “educating” their children in a native English -speaking environment. It is all “son et lumiere” as the French say…. sound and light shows that BS baffle the egos of such parents. Why would they cut off their source of cash by actually applying any rules and regulations that might “inconvenience” their cash cows?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I took a baseball to the face while teaching at a charter school in Phoenix, Arizona. A Sixth Grader decided it would be funny to beam me with it while I was standing inside my room trying to direct dismissal. My face was swollen for 9 days and it knocked a molar loose. When I pressed charges, the school terminated me for breach of contract.

    This is one of the main reasons I left teaching. $40,000 salary per year and have to put up with that? No thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Our school has no printed rules for students. None. This is an intentional choice by the Director. So when one student punched another one in the face, what was the response? Nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The last school I worked at with policies such as this were state public schools. I have seen limited violence in the private international schools I worked at though.

      However, I did witness one student fight that was quite violent and the students ran away. There was no one to call. No one responded for 10 minutes. One child was an admins son. There were no consequences for the fight. No reports written. The child was allowed to return the next day.

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    2. I’ll tell you what, doing gaming revenue audits in a casino is a heck of a lot easier, lower stress and pays much more.

      Liked by 1 person

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