Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hands Off!!!

When is it alright for an educator to put their hands on a student? (I don’t mean shaking their hands as they enter the classroom as suggested by Harry Wong!) The blanket answer is never, especially when dealing with a situation where you are disciplining the student. However, in my years in education I have seen an administrator punched by a student, a student continue to go after another student in a fight, students blatantly ignore teachers directives, and other situations where you want to put your hands on a student, not in an aggressive manner, just to get their attention.

Training in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention teaches proper techniques in restraining and transporting students in a manner that will not cause harm to the student or the adult, but unless you practice these techniques to where they become second nature they are useless in a crisis situation. I have had the training and have abandoned it in times of need, relying on a good old fashioned bear hug. I have never hurt a student nor do I ever intend to, but shouldn’t educators be able to restrain a student to prevent them from doing harm to themselves or others? Should we be able to hold their arm to get their attention without fear of a lawsuit? Despite our best intentions the bottom line is HANDS OFF!!!!!!


Mike said...

I wonder if districts offer enough training in this area? I have been an administrator in two districts in different states and have never been offered any training dealing with this issue.

lklaeren said...

Hi Rich,
When I taught in elementary school, we had several special education classes in the building, and many students who were part of regular ed. classes during various parts of the day. Teachers and administrators in our building were encouraged to take a class on nonviolent interventions to use with students, particularly special ed. students who might require special care.
Teaching in middle school, students are more "hands off" in general- they are too grown for a hug etc, and these days one cannot be too careful. There are however, many kids who really could use a hug- I think there are kids who just don't get this kind of affection from their parent or guardian.

danigirl said...

I have been an educator for 6 years in very tough schools. We have been told to never use excessive force, but you may restrain a child until an administrator arrives if he/she is endangering the teacher or another student. Restraints, such as bear hugs etc. I have only had to do this twice in my career. For the most part my students do not fight when I am present, on the two occasions where I had to physically intervene, both occurred in the cafeteria. I believe an excellent rapport and consistent classroom management has helped to alleviate this. My students respect me as well as I do them. They know from day one, that I never promote fighting as a means to solve problems.

However, on the occasions where us educators must phyically intervene, it would be nice to have formal training.

J Crosby said...

The answer is YES we should be able to hold their arm, hand, foot, or whatever the student is using to cause harm to himself, or others. The problem is that we are so scared of being sued that we allow things to happen. I believe that each time we let anything inappropriate slide, we are teaching the child that the behavior is ok. I have had students have a complete meltdown in my classroom, and I responded as professionally as I could. However, I refuse to let a child of any age throw anything at me or hit me. This is not ok. If other students see this behavior, they WILL try it. Educators have to remember, your career is giving students an education for life, not a security officer.

Anonymous said...

I have been an educator for over 10 years and I've been blessed that I have not had to break up a fight. However, I know about the "hands off" policy because one of my colleagues was suspended for two months pending an investigation because while trying to break up a fight with a "bear hug" he was accused of using excessive force.
This suspension has made the faculty think twice before intervening which as a parent I don't think is good. Last week, two boys got into a fight which turned into a brawl because instead of trying to break up the fight, the teaches waited until security made it to the fourth floor.
Somehow we have to find middle ground before someone gets seriously hurt.