Physical aggression toward teachers: Antecedents, behaviors, and consequences

Susan D. McMahon, Eric Peist, Jacqueline O. Davis, Kailyn Bare, Andrew Martinez, Linda A. Reddy, Dorothy L. Espelage, Eric M. Anderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


School violence is a significant public health concern that occurs in many forms. Physical aggression can cause serious bodily injury and long-term negative effects, and both teachers and students experience significant rates of physical aggression. There are few studies examining teachers’ experiences of physical aggression. Studies that go beyond prevalence are limited, and we know little about the triggers and consequences that surround these incidents. This qualitative investigation used an antecedent-behavior-consequence (A-B-C) framework to understand how incidents of physical aggression directed toward teachers unfold. The sample included 193 elementary and secondary teachers who completed an anonymous, online survey and described events leading up to and following their experiences with physical aggression. Using conventional content analysis, we identified common antecedents, such as breaking up fights, discipline, and directives, and common consequences, such as student removal, school staff involvement, positive outcomes, and inaction. Further analyses revealed seven common A-B-C patterns among physical aggression incidents that are highlighted and discussed. Utility of the A-B-C framework for teacher-directed violence is described, along with implications for research, practice, and policy. Exploring the context surrounding incidents of physical aggression directed against teachers provides useful information for violence prevention and interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-126
Number of pages11
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


  • aggressive behavior
  • antecedents
  • consequences
  • physical aggression
  • school violence
  • teacher victimization
  • teacher-directed violence


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