Potential Violence

Icon of a house with a lock in it

As you read through this potential violence scenario, use your practice checklist to ensure each step of the response is being followed.

You are the director of a child care center that enrolls infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. One of your parents/guardians informed you of a custody battle with his spouse pending their divorce. He provided legal documentation that he has sole custody and his spouse does not have visitation rights. However, on Friday afternoon, his spouse arrives at the program and states that she is picking up their two children for weekend visitation. After asking for her identification and checking your authorization list, you inform her that she is not on the approved authorization list and you cannot release the children to her. She responds by loudly announcing that they are her children and she will be taking them. You hope to resolve this peacefully, but you immediately contact the child’s custodial parent/guardians and initiate lockdown procedures according to your practiced plan.

You initiate your standard lockdown procedure by alerting staff with an audible alarm system. All staff remain where they are with children and lock their doors from the inside of each room. Staff count heads, and children are led to the safest designated area, where the teacher engages them in quiet activities.

You again advise the woman that you cannot release the children to her and offer to contact the custodial parent/guardians.

Here’s where it can change.

  1. The woman gets angry, says several things about her spouse, and leaves the facility, slamming the door behind her. After the situation is resolved, you give staff the all clear to end lockdown. However, you continue to be alert and provide additional supervision in the classrooms where the two children are enrolled while you wait for the custodial parent/guardians to arrive. After he arrives, you give staff the all clear to resume normal activities.
  2. The woman continues to shout and threaten legal action against the center. When she refuses to lower her voice and leave the facility, you contact 911 for assistance. You calmly try to diffuse the situation while waiting for first responders. During this time, you have a staff member contact the custodial parent/guardians. The center remains on lockdown until the situation is resolved. Staff engage the children until an all clear signal is given.

Questions to consider while reading

  • How would you communicate the incident to parents/guardians of the other children in your care?