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According to their study, Dwyer, K., Osher, D., & Warger, C. state that “None of these signs alone is sufficient for predicting aggression and violence.” Moreover, it is inappropriate and potentially harmful to use the early warning signs as a checklist against which to measure individual children. Rather, the early warning signs are offered only as an aid in identifying and referring children who may need help. School communities must ensure that staff and students use the early warning signs only for identification and referral purposes only trained professionals should make diagnoses in consultation with the child’s parents or guardian.
The following early warning signs are presented with the qualifications that they are not equally significant and are not presented in order of seriousness: Social withdrawal, Excessive feelings of isolation and being alone, Excessive feelings of rejection, Being a victim of violence, Feelings of being persecuted, Low school interest and poor academic performance, Expression of violence in writings and drawings, Uncontrolled anger, Patterns of impulsive and chronic hitting, intimidating, and bullying behaviors, History of discipline problems, History of violent and aggressive behavior, Intolerance for differences and prejudicial attitudes, Use of drugs and alcohol, Affiliation with gangs, Inappropriate access to firearms, Serious threats of violence.
Unlike early warning signs, imminent warning signs indicate that a student is very close to behaving in a way that is potentially dangerous to himself or herself or others. Imminent warning signs require an immediate response.
No single warning sign can predict that a dangerous act will occur. Rather, imminent warning signs usually are presented as a sequence of overt, serious, hostile behaviors or threats directed at peers, staff, or other individuals. Usually, imminent warning signs are evident to more than one staff member as well as to the child’s family. When warning signs indicate that danger is imminent, safety must always be the first and foremost consideration. Action must be taken immediately. Imminent warning signs may include: Serious physical fighting with peers or family members, Severe destruction of property, Severe rage for seemingly minor reasons, Other self-injurious behaviors or threats of suicide, Threats of lethal violence, A detailed plan (time, place, and method) to harm or kill others, particularly if the child has a history of aggression or has attempted to carry out threats in the past, Possession and/or use of firearms and other weapons.
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