Elementary school students may be young and small generally, but there are more and more incidents of verbal and physical violence against teachers, sometimes causing injury. A new survey found 72 per cent of participants reported explicit verbal insults or obscene gestures from a student, with 41 per cent saying they'd had similar encounters with a parent. (Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images)

Schoolteachers suffer rapidly increasing violence

It’s getting harder to be a schoolteacher in Canada, and less safe even for school educators of very young students in elementary school.

A new study on the issue of violence against elementary school teachers in Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, compared a survey from last year to the findings of a similar study in 2005.

This latest study the University of Ottawa polled 1,600 educators last year in Ontario and compared their results to those of the earlier survey taken by three major educator unions.

The new study is called  Facing the Facts: The Escalating Crisis of Violence Against Elementary School Educators in Ontario” and asked about the number of times teachers faced verbal or physical violence from students, parents, or administrators during the 2017-18 school year.  (key findings HERE)

A teachers union, CUPE 2745,in New Brunswick released graphic images detailing injuries suffered by educational assistants as part of a 2017 report tracking incidents over the past 16 months. It’s not just an Ontario issue (Submitted by Simon Ouellette/CUPE)

The 2005 study asked teachers about violence or bullying they had experienced over the course of their careers. At the time only seven per cent reported some form of bullying or physical violence over the years.

The new Ontario survey found a seven fold increase in incidents with 54 per cent of teachers reporting physical violence from students including, kicking, punching, or biting.

Some 72 per cent noted explicit obscene and/or racist insults from students, with 41 per cent saying similar insults had come from parents.

Quoted by PostMedia, Criminology professor and study co-author Chris Bruckert said, “When we talk about this as a crisis, that’s not hyperbole,” Bruckert said in a telephone interview. “There is a serious problem in our elementary schools, and it needs attention.”

FACING THE FACTS: The Escalating Crisis of Violence Against Elementary School Educators in Ontario (Darcy Santor, Chris Bruckert, and Kyle McBride)

FACING THE FACTS: The Escalating Crisis of Violence Against Elementary School Educators in Ontario
(Darcy Santor, Chris Bruckert, and Kyle McBride)

Violent acts doubled in number

A Globe and Mail survey noted that in Canada’s largest school district, Toronto, there were 3,831 reports of workplace violence last year compared to 1,894 reports to the  2014-15 school year. The Globe reports that in Edmonton Alberta, the rate was more than double just between 2015-16 and last year, while in west coast Surrey, British Columbia the number skyrocketed from 190 incidents in 2008-09 to over 1,600 last year.

The reasons cited are varied and range from societal changes including growing income disparity and inequality, to the addition of children with complex needs into the regular classroom, a claimed lack of support for teachers from administrators, and shortage of resources including trained psychological staff and others.

The report estimates that in Ontario alone, the cost of lost time due to violence is some $3 million annually.

FACING THE FACTS: The Escalating Crisis of Violence Against Elementary School Educators in Ontario (Darcy Santor, Chris Bruckert, and Kyle McBride)

FACING THE FACTS: The Escalating Crisis of Violence Against Elementary School Educators in Ontario
(Darcy Santor, Chris Bruckert, and Kyle McBride)

Among the several recommendations in the report are: increased resources for vulnerable and special needs students, and smaller class sizes so teachers can provide more time to individuals.

It also says more support for teacher’s mental and physical needs in the face of growing harassment and violence. ongoing monitoring of workplace harassment and violence amd the adoption of a population health approach that examines and addresses the broad range of factors influencing harassment and violence against educators in elementary schools.

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2 comments on “Schoolteachers suffer rapidly increasing violence
  1. Avatar Connie Cattle says:

    Though I feel somewhat sorry for them it is their
    fault for telling the children under their care that their
    parents cannot discipline them. Because they could call the
    CSA on them. It is your own fault and maybe if you didn’t
    constantly use your liberal view of child-rearing on the little
    darlings you would not be the ones on the receiving end of their
    violent temper outburst.

  2. Avatar Peter Ashcroft says:

    Is the violence and murder shown in T.V. plays and on the cinema screen the reason for this. Showing a sedentary way of life seems to be taboo.