It may look like an idyllic classroom, but more and more often teachers are being subjected to various forms of violence from young students to teenagers according to a study for the Canadian Teachers Federation (CBC)

Canadian schools: Report on violence against teachers

“(The teachers) are in the line of fire daily and this does not bode well if we continue the same path we’re on” M Ramsankar

Schools aren’t what they used to be even as little as ten years ago. That’s one of the messages coming out of a new study on violence against teachers. The results show that emotional and physical attacks from students or parents has affected the vast majority of school teachers and also that the violence is increasing.

The study and situation are being discussed at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF)

Mark Ramsankar is President of the CTF which represents 238,000 teachers across Canada. I reached him in Edmonton where he is attending the conference.


The issue comes as teacher organisations look at what’s happening in the classroom relating to various verbal and physical threats to teachers.

Mark Ramsankar, President, The Canadian Teachers Federation (supplied)

The CTF began examining a variety of other member organisations literature on the subject. This included for example a survey of teachers across the country but also member organisations like the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, which said some 70 per cent of respondents having personally experienced violence and/or witnessed violence against another staff person and that even more said the violence is increasing. Other literature involved studies in the U.S and internationally on the issue of violence against teachers. 

“We often hear about the fights for cuts in public education, well this is what it starts to look like” : M Ramsankar

Another member group, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) indicated that 90 per cent of those teachers had experienced some form of violence during their career.

A slide from the presentation at the CTF general assembly this week showing the situation teachers are facing (CTF)

This can be physical events like kicking, hitting, spitting, or any variety of verbal abuse and threats, any and all of which can wear teachers down and cause stress, even burn out. The OECTA study also showed that 15% of incidents involved weapons, most of which were classroom objects.

Ramsankar also says incidents are likely under-reported as teachers feel concern about their job future. Some say they fear being considered as unable to control students. Another concern is a perceived lack of support from the school officials  who may have more concern about the school’s reputation as being a safe environment.

Award-winning Ottawa high school teacher Tony Lamonica suffered a torn rotator cuff and required a hip replacement after a violent attack by a 17-year-old student in 2017. The student was charged but Lamonica’s career was over. (Ashley Burke-CBC)

He also says the violence is in no small measure due to ongoing cuts to public education where a variety of supports in the school are gone, from medical support to counsellors available for students. This is in addition to increasing class sizes and a growing diversity of needs of students.

The Canadian Teachers Federation Conference continues this week as more aspects of this growing concern are discussed.

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