Aggressive and violent behaviour

Behaviours that potentially cause physical harm to staff and students present a great challenge to school communities.

Providing support and evidence-based approaches for aggressive and violent student behaviour is a high priority for the Department. School responses require careful planning and consideration of all the factors that contribute to these behaviours.


As with addressing other forms of problem behaviour in schools, the most effective approaches are preventative rather than reactive. Schools can circumvent the development of aggressive and violent behaviours by ensuring:

  • high quality school policies and practices
  • clear school and classroom rules and procedures
  • consistent communication of policies and practices across the school community
  • consistent supervision of students across school areas
  • involving parents and carers in school wide actions
  • involving multiple stakeholders in school wide actions
  • staff working with students to raise awareness about social, emotional and behavioural issues.


There are a number of programs and approaches that have been shown to reduce peer aggression and violence. They include:

  • programs that aim to change risk factors and prevent antisocial behaviour by focusing on issues such as school climate, class climate and authoritative teacher behaviour
  • cognitive behavioural, social emotional and peer mentoring programs
  • individual cognitive-behavioural programs that address peer aggression.


There are a range of services and specialist staff within the Department to support schools in the prevention, early intervention and reduction of aggressive and violent behaviour.


Learning and Support Teams in schools have a range of policies, practices and resources to address additional student needs including behavioural needs.

Risk assessment and management planning

The Department's Health, Safety and Staff Wellbeing Directorate has developed a range of procedures, guidelines and tools to assist with the management of students with challenging behaviours. Learn more about risk management resources (staff-only) and student safety (staff only).

Educational services

Schools needing support beyond their own resources for students with aggressive or violent behaviour can access additional services through their local Delivery support team.

Specialist settings

As well as drawing on the expertise of staff in schools and Delivery support teams, public schools have access, through local Delivery support team protocols and placement criteria, to a range of specialist programs and settings across NSW, such as behaviour schools, tutorial programs and suspension centres.

More information

Professional learning

The Behaviour Support Toolkit provides links to online self-paced professional learning in behaviour support and management.

Online Training Australia Understanding and supporting student behaviour explores what is meant by difficult behaviour, how teacher practice can influence student behaviour and how positive classroom management practices support the learning and behaviour needs of all students. This course can be found in MyPL.

Understanding personalised learning and support explores processes and strategies to support the additional learning and wellbeing needs of a wide range of students who require individual planning approaches. This can be found in MyPL.

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