Dangerous Behaviors and How to Respond

It is often difficult to discern between behavior that is disruptive and dangerous. Each situation is unique and the context in which behavior is happening must be taken into consideration. The following is a general guideline to help faculty and staff better identify behaviors that could be dangerous and how to respond appropriately.

  • Inappropriate cell phone use during class
  • Interrupting instructors or classmates
  • Crosstalk or side conversations during class
  • Frequently leaving the classroom or meeting
  • Poor personal hygiene that makes it difficult for others to concentrate
  • Nonverbal noises that disrupt class
  • Being intoxicated
  • Overtly disrespectful talk to others
  • Disregarding classroom policies
  • Wearing clothing that disrupts the classroom environment
  • Continued nonverbal passive-aggressive behavior
  • Continuing any of the behaviors listed above after being asked to stop
  • Bullying
  • Directly communicating threats of violence
  • Self-injurious behavior during class or exposed during class
  • Physical assault such as pushing, shoving, or punching
  • Throwing objects or slamming doors
  • Verbal abuse (profanity, violent language)
  • Yelling or screaming
  • Alarming conversations about weapons, killing, or death
  • Psychotic, delusional, or rambling speech
  • Violation of professional or personal boundaries that have been clearly communicated

The National Association for Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment suggests the following as steps to address disruptive or dangerous behavior. Remaining calm in these situations is critical.

  1. Know the signs of danger- body language, movement, verbal cues, behaviors that are outside of a student’s baseline, etc.
  2. Keep yourself safe- trust your instincts and find a path to safety if needed. 
  3. Know your backup- depending on the situation, know what resources are available to support you in a dangerous situation, keep these resources handy. Develop safety plans with your colleagues.
  4. Be prepared- create a safety plan before you need it. Practice how to respond to specific scenarios with colleagues. 
  5. Understand their perspective- If you have a better understanding of why a student is behaving the way they are you can be more successful in diffusing the situation.
  6. Early intervention- learn to recognize the physical signs of distress and intervene as early as possible to keep the situation from escalating. 
  7. Persuasion and body language- use a calm tone of voice, open body language, eye contact, and try to humanize the situation. 

It is important to report these situations to the appropriate office on campus. 

Dangerous behavior should be reported to SUU Police immediately. 

Report a Concern