What to Do If There Is a Fight at School

Teen boy starting fight

Fights at school have become an increasingly familiar sight for children of all grade levels. If you are concerned about the possibility of being in a fight, have been in a fight, or have seen a fight at school, you have many options for dealing with these unfortunate circumstances.

How to Defend Yourself

The main goal of self-defense, according to Kidshealth.org, is to do all you can to avoid getting into a physical fight with someone who has threatened or attacked you. Experts agree taking steps to protect yourself before a fight breaks out is the best way you can defend yourself from threats of violence.

Be Proactive

School fights can happen to anyone at anytime. Whether you are at school, the mall, or the park, Kidshealth.org and Kidpower.org suggest the best defense is being prepared before a fight occurs. There are several steps you can take to keep yourself safe.

  • Use common sense and listen to your intuition. If you hear rumors that someone is going to attack you after school, use common sense and find a way to avoid being alone at that time. If you are walking down the hallway and have a feeling something bad is about to happen, listen to your intuition. Find another route or a teacher to chat with.
  • Talk to a trusted adult. If you know someone has a problem with you and you think the person might turn violent, you should talk to a trusted adult about how to prevent further problems. Be persistent and specific about the problems, even if the first adult you speak to is not helpful.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you think someone may want to start a fight with you, it would be smart to avoid isolated areas. Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Use the self-defense method of target denial. If you see the person who has threatened you, make a quick turn to avoid him. If the aggressor can't reach you, he can't fight you.
  • Try de-escalation tactics. If someone approaches you in a threatening way, remain calm and use confident body language to prevent the situation from getting worse. If someone is teasing you, you may be able to de-escalate the situation by agreeing with him and directing his attention to something else like a teacher walking down the hallway.
  • Take a self-defense class. A self-defense class will give you confidence as well as techniques to protect yourself in a fight.

What to Do in a Fight

Sometimes being proactive isn't enough to keep a bully from physically attacking you. If you find yourself in a situation where your only option left is to fight back, Kidpower.org offers a few ways to defend yourself.

  • Try to get away.
  • If you know someone is coming up behind you to attack, turn toward the person with your hands up in front of your body and loudly say "stop" before walking away.
  • Look the aggressor in the eye and use a firm voice to yell "stop." If the person doesn't stop, yell for help by calling out the name of a teacher whose classroom is nearby.

Physically fighting someone, even in self-defense, should always be a last resort. In some school districts, everyone involved in a fight can be punished, regardless of who started it.

What to Do After a Fight

If you have been physically attacked, the first thing you should do is seek help from an adult like the school nurse. Depending on how bad your injuries are, you may also need to go to the hospital. Once you have received medical attention, there are a few other actions you may want to take.

  • Tell your side of the story. Talk to school officials and your parents about what happened from your perspective. If you don't feel you can talk to the adults in your life, call a crisis line. People who start fights need help. Empowering Parents says by reporting the problem you could help others in the future.
  • Talk to your parents and school officials about your future safety options.
  • If you sustained major injuries during the fight, call the police or speak to a lawyer.

What to Do if You Started the Fight

Being physically violent towards others is an unacceptable reaction to feelings of anger and emotional pain. Youthoria.org suggests these types of behaviors will likely carry into your adult life, which can land you in prison. If you started a fight with someone and want to change those negative behaviors:

  • Be honest and turn yourself in to school authorities.
  • Think about why you attacked someone.
  • Talk to a trusted adult or call a crisis line to get help dealing with your emotions.
  • Apologize to the person you fought. They may not want to hear or accept your apology, but it is still important to express remorse.
  • Find ways to boost your self-esteem. Health Guidance for Better Health suggests starting a new hobby, volunteering somewhere or joining a team.

Starting a fight with someone does not make you a bad person who has to fight all the time. You can choose to be better than your mistakes.

What to Do if You See a Fight

The IF Foundation warns bystanders against jumping in to break up a fight or help a friend. If you get involved in a fight, you become vulnerable to injuries and punishment. There are several things you can do if a fight breaks out at school.

  • Find an adult or call the police.
  • Yell loudly to break up the fight by saying "stop" or warn that an adult is coming.
  • Stand by the injured person when the fight is over.

While you may want to keep a friend from getting beaten up or avoid being called a tattletale, jumping into a physical fight can cause more problems for you. If you are injured during the fight there may not be anyone else who can get help.

Dealing With Violence

Violence never solves problems, it only provides temporary relief for the aggressor and causes more trouble. If you are concerned about fights at school, the best thing you can do is talk to an adult who will listen and take action.

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What to Do If There Is a Fight at School