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Conduct Disorders: Assesssment & Diagnosis
Conduct Disorders continuing education MFT CEUs

Section 25
Handling Extreme Behavior

CEU Question 25 | CE Test | Table of Contents | Conduct Disorders
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

Extreme Defiant Behavior
Ross, a fifth grader, started his day with a chip on his shoulder. He bothered and provoked other students in desk group throughout the morning and was sent to time-out twice before the morning recess. After recess,Defiant Behavior Conduct Disorders social work continuing education he starts up where he left off before. He hums to himself as he works on an assignment and disturbs his classmates. When they complain, the teacher asks Ross to take his paper and pencil and finish his assignment at the back table.

"Forget it!" he shouts. "I'm not going, and you can't make me. I don't have to follow your stupid rules or do anything you say if I don't want to." He stands next to his desk with his arms folded and continues humming, defiantly.

All eyes are on Ross. The tension is extreme. Teaching and learning have come to a screeching halt. All of his classmates are wondering, "What's she going to do?" Her credibility and authority are on the line.

But this teacher has a plan. She takes a couple of deep breaths and then calmly asks her students to line up at the door, leaving Ross standing alone next to his desk. She joins her class at the door and makes an announcement.

"Ross needs to make a decision about whether or not he wants to be part of our class today. Let's give him three minutes of silence to help him make up his mind." She looks at her watch and turns to Ross.

"Would you like to join us and cooperate, or would you prefer to work it out with our principal, Mrs. Donnelly, in the office? I'd be happy to call her if that's what you prefer. I'll give you a few minutes to think about it." She looks at her watch again and waits in silence with the rest of her class. She's prepared to act when the three minutes are over.

The spotlight is squarely on Ross and so is the hot potato of responsibility. It's up to him to decide what he wants to do. He is responsible for the outcome. Ross looks around the room, hums defiantly for about thirty seconds, and then begins to feel self-conscious and stops. He realizes there is no way out and squirms uncomfortably.

"Okay," he says, "I'll join the class."

"Good choice," says his teacher. "Have a seat." She asks the rest of the class to return to their desks and continue with their writing assignment.

This teacher is effective because she's prepared and operates with a plan. She fulfills all of her basic responsibilities. She keeps all of her students supervised. She keeps them safe, and she minimizes risk. She remains in control of the situation the whole time.

Her first step is to separate the parties involved. Since Ross is defiant, the easiest thing to do is to separate others from him. She asks her class to line up at the door and joins them. Everyone is supervised. Everyone is safe. She minimizes the risk by creating a safe distance between Ross and others.

Her next step is to give Ross some time to cool down and a way out of the situation he put himself in. She offers him some choices. He can cooperate and rejoin the class, or she will call the office, where he can resolve the matter with the principal. The choice is his and so is the responsibility for the outcome. She's prepared to follow through with the consequence based on his choice.

In this case, Ross chooses to cooperate and rejoin the class, but let's consider the other possible scenario. Let's say that Ross remains defiant at the end of the three minutes. What should his teacher do? She should follow through, call the office, and have Ross escorted out of class. All of her students are watching. Her credibility and authority are on the line. In situations like this, teachers need back-up support.

Dangerous or Destructive Behavior
Brent, an eighth grader, disrupts his social studies class by throwing pencils and wads of paper at his classmates. He gets caught, and his teacher, Mr. Jeffries, asks him to go to the back table for a fifteen-minute time-out. Things are quiet for a few minutes, and then someone shouts, "Watch out!" When Mr. Jeffries turns around, he sees a chair flying across the room narrowly missing several students. Brent is standing at the back table with a second chair in his hands. Mr. Jeffries asks his students to put their heads on their desks and cover them with their arms, and then he turns to Brent.

"Put the chair down, please," says Mr. Jeffries, but Brent lets it fly. This one bounces off a counter and shatters a large window. As Brent reaches for another chair, Mr. Jeffries orders his students to quickly exit the classroom and line up outside the door. He joins them at the door and calls the office for help. His kids are safe, but Brent continues his rampage.

"Put the chair down, Brent," Mr. Jeffries says again. His words have little effect.

"You're all a bunch of shitheads!" Brent shouts and lets the third chair fly that crashes into a desk. Moments later, the vice principal arrives with the campus security officer, who escorts Brent from the classroom.

This scene sounds like an educator's nightmare, but Mr. Jeffries had a plan. He knew his first duty was to protect his students from danger, so he mobilized the biggest part of his classroom that was still under his control-his cooperative students. He moved them outside the classroom as quickly as possible; then he sent for back-up support from the office. A simple two-step plan was enough to fulfill all of his obligations. He kept his students supervised. He kept them safe, and he took the appropriate steps to minimize risk. He didn't put himself or his students in needless danger by attempting to restrain Brent physically.

Violent or Assaultive Behavior
While Mr. Tamori prepares for his fifth-period biology class, he hears a commotion in the hallway outside his classroom. He looks out his door and sees two students wrestling on the ground and punching each other while a group of students shouts and encourages them on.

Mr. Tamori approaches the boys and asks them to stop, but there's so much shouting, the boys can't hear him. "Time to get rid of the crowd," Mr. Tamori says to himself. He asks all but one student to leave and sends that student to the office for help. Then, Mr. Tamori asks the boys to stop a second time.

This time, they hear him. The fight is over, but the boys are still very upset.

"He started it!" shouts one of the boys as he gets up off the pavement.

"You're the biggest liar!" shouts the other, pointing an accusing finger.

"Both of you need a few minutes to calm down," says Mr. Tamori matter-of-factly. "This isn't a good time for talking."

He understands the futility of problem solving while the boys are upset. His first step is to cool them down. He asks one of them to have a seat in his classroom and the other to sit outside the door in the corridor.

The boys are separated. Now they can cool down. Mr. Tamori stands at the door and waits for back-up from the office.

Within minutes, the vice principal arrives and escorts the boys to the office, where they can resolve the matter.

Mr. Tamori managed this assaultive incident effectively by following his simple three-step plan:
1. Separate the parties.
2. Cool them down.
3. Call for help.

In this case, separating the parties meant separating the crowd from the two boys and the two boys from each other. Mr. Tamori fulfilled all of his duties. He kept them supervised. He kept them safe, and he took the appropriate steps to minimize risk.
- MacKenzie, Robert J. EdD, "Setting Limits in the Classroom", Three Rivers Press: New York, 2003.

Personal Reflection Exercise #11
The preceding section contained information about ways to handle extreme behavior. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Coyne, S. M., Warburton, W. A., Essig, L. W., & Stockdale, L. A. (2018). Violent video games, externalizing behavior, and prosocial behavior: A five-year longitudinal study during adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 54(10), 1868–1880.

Hein, S., Barbot, B., Square, A., Chapman, J., Geib, C. F., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2017). Violent offending among juveniles: A 7-year longitudinal study of recidivism, desistance, and associations with mental health. Law and Human Behavior, 41(3), 273–283.

Merrin, G. J., Davis, J. P., Berry, D., & Espelage, D. L. (2019). Developmental changes in deviant and violent behaviors from early to late adolescence: Associations with parental monitoring and peer deviance. Psychology of Violence, 9(2), 196–208.

Rowan, Z. R., Schubert, C. A., Loughran, T. A., Mulvey, E. P., & Pardini, D. A. (2019). Proximal predictors of gun violence among adolescent males involved in crime. Law and Human Behavior, 43(3), 250–262.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 25
What are the three steps in managing an assaultive incident effectively? Record the letter of the correct answer the CE Test.

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