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Table of Contents
In the wake of school tragedies and the growing concern about creating safe environments for children, teachers, parents, and school personnel, this resource provides practical techniques and guidelines for de-escalating aggression with insight and finesse rather than with force. Andra Medea, an instructor in conflict management and nationally recognized expert, developed the Virtual Tranquilizer, a set of non-contact de-escalation techniques used by psychiatric staff, school administrators, and even court personnel. In this readily accessible book, she explains how to manage aggression from tantrums to mental health issues and school shootings, using anecdotes, research-informed techniques, and, at times, humor. Readers will find the concrete tools they need to create a positive climate in which they recognize signs of building aggression and use practical techniques to head it off: demonstrating that the best way to handle violence is to keep it from happening in the first place.
• Strategies for de-escalating aggression and violence
• Specific techniques with anecdotes and examples that bring those techniques to life
• Research-informed practices in conflict management from an expert in the field
• Teachers, administrators, counselors, security personnel, support staff
• Creating a safe climate with actions and words, not just external security
• Crafting a blueprint that sets the stage for entire schools and districts to be safe zones where all can thrive
"Andra Medea has the ability to see things through a different lens and the unique ability to explain her viewpoint in a way that is easily understood and easy to translate into our everyday work lives. Her practical advice, examples, success stories and research-based techniques, told with a subtle humor make this book one that is easy to read and filled with “ah hah! moments. The reader comes away with a host of techniques that are easy to use and can be successfully applied to almost any situation.
As an attorney who has worked for many years with people who are under tremendous stress – at risk of losing their homes, their livelihoods, their children and almost everything that gives their life a sense of safety and hope, I see good people at their worst. The attorneys in our office have used the techniques in this book to help our clients focus on what they need to do to achieve their goals in court and to confront a complex, dehumanizing system and emerge with their dignity and integrity intact. These techniques work and can be applied in almost any discipline but they are especially useful for our teachers who are increasingly confronted with difficult and dangerous situations on an almost daily basis.
The invaluable techniques outlined in this book give teachers the information they need to discern when a troubled child presents a potential danger to others. Most importantly, it gives teachers the tools they need to intervene safely and avert a dangerous situation before it gets out of control or turns deadly. It offers our educators the ability to reach out to a troubled child and the techniques they need to put that child on a different and life-changing path. "
Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services
“Reading and applying the principles in this book will give you knowledge that took me 20 years of personal and professional experience to gain.”
Eric Ward, Psy.D.
Family Counseling Service
"When teaching conflict resolution courses at the collegiate and graduate levels, Andra’s book Conflict Unraveled was a clear, practical resource favored by my students. It is also one I frequently reference in my mediations with clients who are divorcing and/or having custody and parenting-time disputes. I was thrilled to see Andra extend this knowledge to schools.
Andra’s new book contains essentials for the prevention of conflict escalation by taking out blame and providing practical solutions and strategies that could be immediately applied. She presents the reader with common scenarios from real educators working with actual kids and then provides tools and simple strategies for intervention.
Something happens to all of us when we flood with emotion that is so primitive and “young” and Andra somehow manages to acknowledge it while simultaneously willing us to do something different. As someone who has managed, developed and designed curriculum for peer mediation programs, I believe such programs would not be necessary—or at the very least, would be free to focus on the most appropriate cases— if teachers and school administrators taught and implemented conflict de-escalation strategies in their classrooms like those described in Safe Within These Walls: De-escalating School Situations Before They Become Crises.
When reading Andra’s book it’s impossible not to have that moment when it just clicks, like, why hadn’t I thought of doing that? As a society, we are ready for this. We can learn from the wisdom of those who have come before us and we can do things differently, hopefully preventing more violence from happening in our schools and in our neighborhoods. Andra’s book provides us with a reference point. The escalation of violence is complicated but Andra’s strategies and her clear approach is simple and practical and we cannot afford to wait in implementing it."
Laura L. Noah
Office of the Chief Judge
Circuit Court of Cook County
“I must first say that I've read the new book twice, front to back, and I love it! I feel Andra Medea has raised the bar, once again, in dealing with sensitive, and potentially dangerous situations/people. I immediately thought while reading it, that not only does she show people how to talk the talk, but also walk the walk. I find the use of language to be very easy to understand, which to me, means that implementation is easier. The contents of this book can be read and understood by anyone, ranging from medical doctors, psychologists, direct care staff, parents and youth alike. I found that the techniques taught in the book are perfect for the more behavioral youth that were at Lad Lake, but also a breath of fresh air for dealing with kids that may be nonverbal, have behavioral and medical conditions or simply do not have the capacity to respond in an appropriate manner when they are being activated by not only the youth they're surrounded by, but burned out staff, that sadly exacerbate and instigate youth by raising their voices and ultimately flooding them to the point they need to be restrained, or given a medicinal cocktail to calm them down. The book flowed seamlessly, again giving the reader an easy and helpful understanding of how to navigate de-escalation techniques and ideas. I truly feel that the information in this book is on track to not only increase the quality of care for youth, but will undoubtedly lead to a more thorough understanding of the clients we are dealing with, which will make life easier for all of us.
I've shared ideas from the book, and already have received interest from colleagues wanting to learn more about the process, as well as how to get staff on board to implement these techniques within the therapeutic milieu”
Dr. Timothy E. Miller
"Description: After several school-based tragedies, national concern over school safety is at an all-time high. This book highlights what teachers and parents should know when dealing with mental health issues, typical tantrums and other issues in young people’s development. Safe Within These Walls offers professional development on violence prevention, while helping caregivers and teachers deal with students’ aggressive behaviors early and appropriately.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking to deal with sensitive classroom situations, such as ones involving students with behavioral and developmental issues, and ones that risk becoming heated and/or violent, this book is the perfect resource. Safe Within These Walls provides common-sense and expert techniques to encourage positive student behavior and prevent outbursts and other disruptions. This title goes beyond de-escalating violence to address the core of good classroom management."
"In years prior I have counseled Juvenile Sex Offenders in a residential setting. I also was a Graphic Artist for 15 years prior to obtaining a Masters of Arts in Counseling from Northern Illinois University. I have attended several trainings presented by Andra Medea and found them very useful. I was flattered when Ms. Medea asked me for my impressions of her book 'Safe Within These Walls' and offer a few thoughts below.
I found 'Safe Within These Walls' user friendly and a easy read. While the book is targeted to the educational community, the understanding of how people in distress are often unable to effectively process emotions and problem solve with-out assistance, also applies to the world of child protective services. Children as well as adults can find the System frustrating and challenging to their abilities to understand and function effectively.
Much is published about, and I have attended other trainings to better understand the brain and the various chemical interactions that impact behaviors. One frustration I have experienced in my attempts to understand 'brain' training is that it tends to be focused on the 'what' i.e. chemicals and resulting behaviors but little practical information on what the “how”, of actual interventions needed to address difficult behaviors. Andra provides a simple and practical explanation of how the phenomena of 'flooding' influences an individual’s ability to effectively problem solve. Andra offers guidance and examples of strategies so needed by front line staff."
Robert Atchison, MS
Intact Family Services Program Manager
Supervisor, Licensing and Permanency
Children’s Home and Aid
"Medea's book, Safe Within These Walls: De-escalating School Situations Before They Become Crises (Capstone Classroom, 2014), offers classroom management advice for addressing students who are anxious, angry, or violent. The book, from a small publishing house for K-12 books, describes methods educators can use to subdue angry and violent students. One of the techniques Medea suggests for stopping fights is breaking students' eye contact by redirecting their gaze at you or away from the other student and using simple directions, like, 'Back up.' Medea tries to analyze past school shootings, the actions educators and students took, and methods for replicating safe behaviors.
The book includes information about how the brain malfunctions when a person is angry and how to read this body language. There are also solutions for different age groups: K-2, 3-6, middle school, and parents. Useful summaries and specific steps for educators are provided at the end of each chapter.
The best and safest time to de-escalate aggression is before it starts, Medea writes. Observe physical cues like avoiding eye contact or mocking tones. By reading situations and students, educators can intervene before situations get out of hand, she writes."
Education Week (Feb 2014)