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3.6 Dealing with Violent and Challenging Behaviour


The Positive Relationships Standard
Regulation 11


This chapter sets out the procedures to follow and gives guidance on how to respond to aggression and violence.


This chapter should be read in conjunction with Restrictive Physical Intervention Procedure and The Police Procedure


Caption: contents list
1. Introduction
2. Referral
3. Admission Stage
  3.1 Risk Assessments
4. Reporting and Recording
5. Agree Terms to be Applied to Specific Behaviours
6. Follow up After an Incident
7. Level of Risk
8. Actions for Staff following a Violent Incident

1. Introduction

Children who encounter difficulties in their developmental cycle require sensitive and responsive services to address their needs. Often such children will display difficult, risk taking and challenging behaviours that may include violence or aggression. No area of managing challenging behaviours should be viewed in isolation.

If we look after children in our care in the context of our philosophy and key principles, the likelihood of violence and aggression should be minimal i.e. is less likely to happen. However, it has to be accepted that in exceptional circumstances some children may resort to violent and aggressive acts.

Where Homes accommodate Children with a history of violence, aggression or abuse, Registered Managers must ensure that the environment and culture of the Home promotes and supports positive behaviour and must also ensure that strategies and staff training are in place which encourage such behaviour through de-escalation of conflicts, discipline, control and the use of Physical intervention & restraint that staff understand and apply at all times.

Staff should be supported and trained to manage their own feelings and responses to the emotions and behaviours presented by Children and understand past experiences and present emotions that are communicated through their behaviour.

2. Referral

For many children, acts of aggression and violence may have been evident prior to coming to us.

Registered Managers should ensure that:

  • Information is sought as to any known behaviours that were considered an act of violence and or aggression;
  • A description of the behaviour should be sought and ascertained whether it could have been attributed to an event in the child's life at that time, or whether this is a pattern of behaviour over time.

See Referrals, Placements and Admissions Procedure.

3. Admission Stage

At the point of admission staff should ascertain the following:

  • What intervention strategies have been used to manage the behaviour?
  • What interventions had positive outcomes?
  • What interventions triggered further acts of aggression or violence?

3.1 Risk Assessments

With this level of understanding, Registered Managers should be able to:

  • Undertake a written risk assessment with supportive guidelines for staff;
  • Ensure all staff are provided with training on how to deflect and manage aggression and violence, as a result of the risk assessment.

All Children must have a Placement Plan, drawn up by the Home, before or as soon as practicable after the Child is placed. Where behaviour difficulties are identified either at the point of placement or thereafter, the strategies for managing and promoting positive behaviour must be incorporated into the Plan – if necessary, there should be a separate detailed Behaviour Management Plan.

4. Reporting and Recording

In any recording or reporting, Registered Managers must make clear the behaviour to which they expect staff to apply the term violent and/or aggressive.

Reports should provide the following information:

  • What was happening at the time;
  • Who was present;
  • What happened.

Registered Managers should ensure that staff consider the following areas prior to reporting an act of aggression or violence:

  • Staff would need to question their own behaviour and responses;
  • Has the child responded inappropriately to a feeling or act against them where the right to be angry was acceptable, but the response/behaviour was not?
  • Did this occur with a specific person with whom it is known they have difficulty?
  • Had the child received visitors or contact from family/ friends at the time of the incident or shortly before or after?

Registered Managers will ensure that staff explore all of the above and look for any triggers before they label a child aggressive or violent.

Accurate and descriptive records allow evaluation to take place and may show triggers or events that may not have been initially identified. This critical assessment of a situation will ensure that future reports of behaviours, which can 'label' a child aggressive or violent will be based on factual and evaluative reporting.

5. Agree Terms to be Applied to Specific Behaviours

The terms "violence" and "aggression" have many definitions. It is likely that if staff were asked individually what acts they felt constituted violence or aggression that these would differ considerably across the group. Similarly, if the question was asked of children it is likely that their interpretation and views would differ widely.

Registered Manager should ensure that:

  • Staff discuss what behaviours they feel describe the terms aggressive and violent;
  • Children are asked what behaviour they feel describe the terms aggressive and violent;
  • It is essential that Registered Managers agree with their staff what constitutes acts of aggression and violence;
  • Where reasonable to do so, staff and children should participate in discussions together;
  • Staff are made aware that discussions with children are a constructive way to ensure that they understand how others perceive behaviours.

6. Follow up After an Incident

Whenever an act or violence or aggression has occurred (based on the home's definition) the Registered Manager should ensure that both staff and children, at an appropriate time, are allowed to discuss the incident and its impact on themselves and others in the group.

Registered Managers should:

  • Undertake a Review and make necessary changes to internal policies, routines and Children’s Placement Plans to help with reducing or preventing incidents from occurring in the future;
  • Discuss with staff how they dealt with the situation and, if required, how they could deal with the situation differently in the future.

Home’s Managers should collate data emanating from incidents and periodically undertake a review with a view to amending the Home’s policies, training strategies, routines and methods for promoting positive behaviour amongst Children.

7. Level of Risk

Registered Managers need to ensure that procedures are in place for responding to incidents and that they match the level of risk.

Workers who are exposed to the risk of violence and aggression need training on the procedures to follow in the event of an incident. It is important that they are aware of the criteria for initiating procedures and are free to do so when they feel under threat.

If the level of risk is such that the continuing placement of the Child is threatened, may be at risk of coming to an end, the Home’s manager must draw this to the attention of the Social Worker and Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO), who may decide to convene a Looked After Review. See Leaving the Home Procedure.

8. Actions for Staff following a Violent Incident

A decision should be made between the staff member, the manager and young person about whether to report matters to the Police, see The Police Procedure.