The latest report investigating the scale and frequency of violent behaviour towards teachers and educators, has found that the clear majority of education professional say verbal and physical abuse from pupils or students has increased significantly in the last twelve months.
The vast majority of participants mentioned poor socialisation skills following COVID restrictions as being the key factor behind the increase in poor pupil or student behaviour.
Poorly implemented behaviour programmes implemented when welcoming pupils and students back to schools and colleges, and a lack of proper policies and procedures deterring intolerable behaviour were important additional factors behind the increase in poor behaviour.
37% of survey participants reported experiencing violence or physical abuse from students and pupils in the previous twelve months. Reports included incidents of students throwing furniture at teachers, students biting teachers, spitting at them, and cases of teachers being punched, kicked or headbutted.
90% reported receiving verbal abuse, including being sworn at, threatened, and targeted with racial or sexual insults.
The NASUWT (UK Teachers Union) published report also highlighted that the number of pupils exhibiting physically violent and abusive, or challenging behaviours has increased in the last twelve months, and that 93% stated that the number of pupils verbally abusing staff members has increased.
18% stated needing time off work due to the stress, physical or mental health impact of violence and abuse from pupils, and 5% stated they are leaving teaching because of poor pupil behaviour.
53% of respondents stated they are seriously considering leaving because of violence and abuse from pupils.
The General Secretary of the NASUWT, Dr Patrick Roach commented:
“While concerns about pupil behaviour are not new, our research indicates an alarming increase in violent and defiant behaviour by some pupils.
“The lack of appropriate in-school support and long waiting lists to access specialist services are contributing to a behaviour crisis which schools are struggling to contain.”
“However, instead of giving better support to classroom teachers too many schools and colleges are placing responsibility for poor pupil behaviour at the door of teachers. This culture of teacher blaming is becoming increasingly widespread, whilst bad employers are failing to take seriously their responsibilities for ensuring the health, safety and welfare of staff working in schools.”
“A failure to tackle violence and abuse in schools today will have long-lasting consequences for teacher recruitment and retention and for the education of children and young people.”
Today’s legal environment will require a risk assessment to be conducted, highlighting any realistic risk employees are being exposed to e.g. being assaulted. The purpose of such is to very clearly identify a) the precise risk, b) the potential liability and c) the implementation of effective mitigating measures.
The highlighted survey clearly states that many education professionals have been assaulted in the last twelve months, or they know of someone who has been assaulted. This means their employer will already have identified a reasonable or realistic risk to the employee’s safety and well-being, and in most countries in the civilised world that means such risk must be addressed and mitigated.
It is highly likely this risk mitigation process will conclude that some level of protective clothing must be considered or issued to the worker.
About the Author
Robert Kaiser is the Founder and CEO of BitePRO®, the world's first specialised brand of protective clothing, offering dependable scratch and bite protection for healthcare workers, education professionals, and others working with individuals displaying challenging behaviour. Robert is a widely respected expert in workplace violence and violence prevention. His written work has been published in several international industry leading publications.