On occasion it may be necessary to deal with behaviours that are physically aggressive. These behaviours may harm the participant, other participants, property or yourself.

Threatening situations like these will give rise to a number of emotions including anger and fear. It is important to acknowledge these emotions and recognise that acting on them may result in unnecessary injury to yourself or you may run the unnecessary risk of an injury to the participant.

In responding to this type of challenging behaviour the first priority is the safety of the participants (though you are not expected to jeopardise your own safety in doing this)

  • Move other participants to a safe area if this is appropriate;
  • Do not risk personal safety if damage to property is involved;
  • Be aware of the legal consequences of using physical force;
  • Physical intervention is only justified in self-defence or in the defence of other participants;
  • Use only the physical force necessary to control the situation;
  • Be aware of individual behaviour program plans that may have been developed for the participant; and
  • Develop a behaviour modification program.

Types of incidents and how to respond to them

  1. A participant, who threatens to kick, hit, punch, pull hair or scratch should be controlled through verbal communication strategies.
  2. Participants, who actually punch, pull hair or scratch should be controlled through evasive self-defence action that minimises the impact of the assault and does not physically control the participant.
  3. Where a participant purposefully attempts to injure someone who as a result would require medical attention, such as repeated blows and attacks with heavy objects, the leader should use reasonable force in restraining the participant.

Note: There is a fine line between behavioural issues and criminal issues. Behaviour modification is preventative and not punitive. Where assault is occurring it is the police and not the program leader who should be called in to take appropriate action.