The Behavioral Intervention Team is a multidisciplinary team that meets at least once monthly for the following purposes:
- detect patterns, trends and disturbances in individual or group behavior
- gather information to assess situations involving students who display concerning or disruptive behaviors or potentially concerning or disruptive behaviors;
- provide consultation and support to faculty and staff in assisting students who display concerning or disruptive behaviors or potentially concerning or disruptive behaviors;
- assess the source, nature, imminence and severity of the student’s threat or perceived threat to themselves and/or the campus community and to classify the risk;
- plan and implement intervention strategies or referrals;
- connect students with appropriate campus and/or community resources; and
- monitor ongoing behavior of students who have displayed disruptive or concerning behavior
- behaviors that interfere with classroom management, the classroom environment or decorum
- notable changes in behavior, appearance, and hygiene
- infrequent class attendance
- dependency on student and/or academic affairs staff
- unusual or threatening words, writings, communications or actions
- overly aggressive behaviors toward others; inability or unwillingness to set limits or redirect focus
- poor decision making and coping skills
- inappropriate or strange behavior
- low frustration tolerance, acting out inappropriately
- overreaction to circumstances
- paranoia or loss of touch with reality; bizarre behavior, such as talking with something/someone who is not present
- impaired speech/babbling and/or disjointed thoughts
- difficulty making decisions despite repeated efforts to clarify, encourage and support
- depressed mood or extreme isolation
- anxiety, panic attacks, extreme emotional swings, excessive crying
- irritable; unruly, abrasive, hostile or aggressive behavior
- lack of regard for others
- lack of sensitivity to being corrected or reprimanded
- extreme drowsiness/falling asleep often; lack of energy
- seeming intoxicated/inebriated
- words, writings, communications or actions endorsing violence/hate/lack of tolerance for others; troubling content in written work/presentations
- lack of empathy and concern for others
- anger management problems
- appearance of being overly nervous, anxious, tense or fearful
- bruising, often injured
- significant change in academic performance –extreme or erratic academic performance, excessive procrastination and very poorly prepared work, especially if inconsistent with previous work performance; repeated requests for special consideration, such as deadline extensions
- excessive weight gain or loss
- evidence of self-harm, such as cutting, burning, head-banging
- expression of suicidal thoughts, depression or feelings of hopefulness
- suicidal statements, gestures, or attempts
- repeated hospitalizations for self-harm or suicidality
- homicidal threats (gestures, written, depicted or verbal); acts or threats to harm others
- other behaviors that cause significant concern to faculty and staff
Whether a student in crisis or distress seeks assistance from faculty and/or staff or not, being able to label the presenting concerns may prove to be difficult. For example, distinguishing between willful procrastination and depression or another medical condition can be difficult. Also, differentiating between a credible homicidal gesture and one communicated in jest can be difficult. We are not asking you to make this call. Instead, we are asking you to notice concerning behaviors that may resemble those above consult with Counseling or submit a Behavioral Incident Report.
Working with Students in Crisis/Distress
- Use soft skills and work to deescalate the situation
- Use a calm tone of voice and open, welcoming body language. Keep in mind that your non-verbal skills may communicate much more than you are communicating verbally.
- Prioritize your safety and the safety of others. Please note: A student who is in crisis or in distress does not necessarily pose a safety concern.
- Try to maintain privacy and confidentiality, without closing yourself off.
- Position yourself near an exit and should the need arise, take action to protect yourself and others.
- Communicate with the individual by telling them about your concerns and ways to go about resolving the situation. Refrain from making promises. Only tell the individual what you know to be true.
- Respect physical boundaries. Do not touch a student, rather offer words of comfort
- They likely want to be heard.
- Only ask for permission should you need to do so. For example, if you know you need to call or email another campus employee or a CRO, do it without asking. It may or may not be helpful to tell the person you are calling for assistance or going to notify someone else who can assist via email.
- Let them know you care about everyone’s wellbeing, including their own.
Responding to a Student in Distress
If you are concerned about a student, here are some suggestions for appropriate ways to respond:
- Request to speak with the student and do so in a private, yet safe space. Ensure the student privacy without compromising safety.
- Refrain from making any promises. It is not okay to tell the student you are going to keep their secret. This may be irresponsible and lead to heightened levels of distress in the future or a prolonged crisis.
- Be direct when communicating with the student. Use objective examples, and then take a humanizing approach by telling them why you are concerned about them.
- Focus on the facts and withhold judgment. Ask them to enlighten you. You should not say you understand just how they are feeling. You can empathize with them without acting as if you have experienced their struggles just as they have.
- Be honest. Only commit to what is feasible. Tell them about campus resources and commit to helping them get help. Be familiar with the ways students can access these services and the processes involved. Some students may be concerned about who will know what or how the incident will impact their standing at the College. Building able to provide minimal information goes a long way.
- If a student says they are ready to speak with someone in another area, walk with the student to the office and personally speak with the faculty/staff member. Speak only about your interaction with the student. Allow the student to tell their own story by giving all of the background information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the core BIT members?
The core members of the Behavioral Intervention Team include:
Dr. Carnice McFarland (Chair)
Dr. Rhonda Coats
Dr. Nathanael Gough
Ad hoc members may be added to the Behavioral Intervention Team as the need arises.
How should the campus community utilize the BIT?
The Behavioral Intervention Team is a consultative, investigative, preventative, and intervention team of faculty and staff members. The BIT is available to assist with brainstorming effective approaches to addressing concerns, gathering information to inform their approach, engaging in early preventative measures to minimize the likelihood of a crisis, and intervening when students are exhibiting red flag behaviors and/or are in distress. The group works to determine the best approaches, assess for threat/safety, classify risks, and monitor ongoing behavior. Should you have any concerns or questions about a student’s behavior, affect, and/or psychological state, please feel encouraged to use the BIT. You do not need to worry about whether your concern is justified. We will do the research and assessment. If you are a faculty/staff member, you likely do not need to worry about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) because the disclosure restrictions only apply to students’ educational records and not interpersonal encounters.
If it is an emergency, please contact a Campus Resource Officer by calling 336-249-8186 ext. 6729 or by calling 911. Without the campus community, this work would not be effective. We are counting on each of you. If you see something, say something. If you think something feels uneasy, please feel encouraged to speak up. All stakeholders–students, faculty, staff, parents, community members—are encouraged to make reports. Please know our intention is not to make students feel like they are being watched. The purpose of the BIT is to create a collaborative culture of care and compassion.
When should I make a referral to the BIT?
You should make a referral during the following instances:
- You have observed a concerning, unusual, or inappropriate “red flag behavior.” Most of the time these incidents will cause you to feel alarmed, anxious, scared or unsure.
- The student has made overt or covert threats to harm themselves or others.
- The student seems to have lost touch with reality or is engaging in violent, hostile behaviors.
- The student is attacking others verbally and/or physically.
- The student tells you or another member of the campus community directly that they need help.
- You are unsure of what is going on but believe it would be helpful for someone else on campus to know your thoughts/feelings and should it be necessary, reach out to the student.
When should I not make a referral to the BIT?
You should not make a referral to the BIT when:
- The behavior can be addressed by using expected classroom management techniques.
- The behavior is clearly a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and can be handled via a disciplinary process only.
- The behavior demonstrates a severe and imminent safety concern (Call 911 immediately).
How can I help?
You can help by reporting facts, observations, and concerns. Also, you can help by documenting your report and completing a Behavioral Incident Report. You can also help by not spreading the information to others. If you know of someone else who may have valuable information to share with the BIT, please encourage them to come forward, and please provide us with their names so we can reach out to them.
How will I know when the situation has been addressed?
When the Behavioral Intervention Team or any member from this team, receives a report, the report will be investigated thoroughly and should it be necessary, an action plan will be implemented. We are not asking reporters to make determinations or to have all of the answers. We are going to take a caring approach to minimize risk and increase safety and wellbeing. Please know that student privacy and confidentiality standards apply in these situations so those who file reports may not necessarily know the outcome of the situation or be privy to details during the investigation.
If you have any questions about the BIT or our reporting process, please feel encouraged to contact any team member or contact the Director of Behavioral and Counseling Services.