Dealing with Challenging and Violent Behaviour


The Positive Relationships Standard
Regulation 11


This chapter gives guidance on responding to challenging and violent behaviour.


This chapter should be read in conjunction with Use of Restraint and Physical Interventions Procedure and The Offending and Anti-Social Behaviour – guidance on when to involve the Police Procedure.

See also: Incidents Guidance.


1. Introduction
2. Referral and Admission
  2.1 Risk Assessments
3. Reporting and Recording
4. Follow up After an Incident
5. Level of Risk
6. Actions for Staff following a Violent Incident

1. Introduction

Children who have suffered abuse and neglect may display difficult, risk taking or challenging behaviours, including violence and / or aggression. A child’s challenging behaviour should never be viewed in isolation but rather seen in the context of their experiences to date.

Children who have a history of challenging behaviour, including violence or aggression, should be placed in homes which are able promote and support positive behaviour and help them deal with their aggression and violence. The placing authority must ensure that the home has strategies to deal with challenging behaviour, and that staff are trained in encouraging positive behaviour through de-escalation of conflicts and confrontations. Staff should attend regular mandatory training such as Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI). Along with any other training session offered in relation to a child’s behaviour. Attendance of training should be kept current and updated when necessary.

Staff working with children who display challenging, aggressive and violent behaviour should be trained in promoting positive behaviour and offered on-going support to manage their own feelings and responses.

Integrated Treatment Model (ITM) Homes

All coaches have been trained within Dialectical Behaviour Therapy which is the approach we implement when dealing with challenging and violent behaviours, specifically coaching young people through their moment of crisis and supporting them to regulate their behaviour and responses.

2. Referral and Admission

Before a child is admitted to the home, the placing authority will provide information on the following as part of the placement planning process:

  • Any previous challenging behaviour (including violence and aggression);
  • A description of the behaviour, including any triggers so staff can identify whether there are any patterns of behaviour. These should be recorded on the child individual risk assessment/individual crisis management plan and reviewed on a regular basis. Any changes must be communicated accordingly with the staff team.

Staff in the home should also 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?
  • Whether additional specialist support (e.g. from CAMHS) is required.

2.1 Risk Assessments

The Registered Children’s Homes Manager should:

  • Ensure all staff are provided with training on how to de-escalate conflict and confrontation and manage aggression and potentially violent behaviour;
  • Undertake written risk assessments and develop strategies for managing any challenging behaviour in individual cases.
The child’s Placement Plan should outline strategies for managing and promoting positive behaviour, and the Risk Assessment / Risk Management Plan will identify support measures to put in place in response to identified risks.

3. Reporting and Recording

The Registered Children’s Homes Manager and the staff within the home should agree the behaviours which will be taken to constitute violence or aggression for reporting purposes.

Reports on aggressive and violent behaviour should provide the following information:

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

Staff and managers should consider the following before reporting an act of aggression or violence:

  • Staff should 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 their 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?
  • Following a CF50am a discussion should form part of the staff meeting agenda, known as a post crisis response. Any agreed changes must be recorded on the child’s risk assessment/individual crisis management plan.

The Registered Children’s Homes Manager and staff should explore all of the above and look for any triggers before they label a child as aggressive or violent.

Accurate records are important as they allow evaluation to take place and help identify any patterns in behaviour. 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.

4. Follow up After an Incident

Whenever an act of violence or aggression has occurred the Registered Children’s Homes Manager should ensure that both staff and child concerned, are allowed to discuss the incident and its impact on themselves and others in the group.

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.
The Registered Children’s Homes Manager should collate data emanating from incidents and periodically undertake a review. The home’s policies, training strategies, routines and methods for promoting positive behaviour amongst children should be revised as required.

5. Level of Risk

The Registered Children’s Homes Manager must 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, or may be at risk of coming to an end, the Registered Children's Homes Manager must draw this to the attention of the child’s social worker and Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO), who may decide to convene a Looked After Review.

6. Actions for Staff following a Violent Incident

A decision should be made between the staff member, the Registered Children’s Homes Manager and young person about whether to report matters to the Police, see Offending and Anti-Social Behaviour – guidance on when to involve the Police Procedure.