What causes the violent outbursts in the classroom?

Today's Classroom: Under the Microscope part 2

Nearly every single day, teachers in Ontario classrooms are forced to deal with a student who is disruptive and sometimes violent.

Kids spitting, punching or slapping their teachers, or having a meltdown so severe, that other students in the class are taken into the hallway, until the student in question calms down.

Believe it or not, this isn't something that is new. It's been happening for years, but the problems are just better diagnosed now than it was in the past.

"The definition of being autistic or having ADHD, used to be very specific, so many people didn't fit under it. But that's where the spectrum comes in and we're now looking at it more as an umbrella term. That allows more kids to get outside help." says child and youth counsellor Tania DaSilva from Behaviour Matters.

She says it's not that there's an increase now, it's just that years ago, more kids were being told to deal with it and not given the support that they needed.

Breaking it down, DaSilva says it works out to be three main problems.

"The main ones we've seen over the years, and are still really prominent today are anxiety, behavioural issues related to emotional regulation and poor social skills is a really big one as well."

But it's the inability for children to control their emotions that usually leads to violent outbursts in schools.

"Whether that's yelling, hitting, destroying property, it's more of a defiant, explosive, aggressive behaviour." DaSilva tells NEWSTALK 1010.

Essentially what that boils down to, is the child can't control their emotions, so they end up exploding in class. DaSilva says kids are struggling at being more flexible, comprimising or seeing another person's point of view.

When it comes to anxiety, that can manifest itself in several different ways including showing worry, tummy aches, withdrawl, frustration, parents frequently getting called to pick up kids and in later school years, skipping class.

While there's no magic wand that can be waved to make the problems go away but there are solutions.

DaSilva says parents need to be involved in the help that their kids are getting, either at school or with a counsellor.

"Children to pick up on what they are watching at home, and that's what they model their behaviour around, so we always ask parents to look within too."

She also says children are already saddled with extra curricular activities, but rather than just sports, she suggests enrolling children in leadership programs and clubs which could take the child out of their comfort zone and help them build resiliency to change.

Another idea that they've had success with when it's been used both in schools and homes, is to offer a quiet room, where a child can go to calm down.

"If a child needs a break, there's somewhere they can go which has resources to help them calm down." says DaSilva.

DaSilva does suggest any solution needs to have parental involvement.

"The way we see it, is if we're all looking together, that's where we're going to find success."

On Day Three of the NEWSTALK 1010 Series "Today's Classroom: Under the Microscope", reporter Hayley Cooper will speak to an expert in the Stop Now and Plan (SNAP) program, and the Ministry of Education.