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Teacher Concerned About Violent Fourth-Grader
Q: I'm a grade four teacher in a major metropolitan city. I have a male in my class who draws pictures in which he is killing other students and teachers. These drawings show students and teachers being hanged and shot, etc. He constantly talks about guns and also says he dreams about killing people he knows (students and teachers). Neither the social worker nor the student's mother has shown concern when I raised the matter with them. The student in question has admitted to having delusions as well. In all the years I have been teaching, I have never had such an aggressive, disruptive student in my class. His teacher last year concurs, and even feels the boy is getting worse.
A: Indeed, it is a serious matter, and your personal challenge appears to be that people are not listening. Whenever that's the case, I propose changing the medium: Switch to writing your concerns in a letter to your principal and/or superintendent. You might include text along these lines: ''Chronically angry children need intervention beyond what I can offer in the classroom if I am to meet my obligation to the other students. I am concerned about this boy's welfare, and the safety and well-being of students around him for the following reasons: [your list].''
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Gavin de Becker is widely regarded as the leading U.S. expert on the prediction and management of violence. His work has earned him three Presidential appointments and a position on a congressional committee. He is currently co-chair of the Domestic Violence Council Advisory Board, and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy.