When a teacher is bitten by a student, it can be a shocking and painful experience. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon in schools today.
Teachers work hard to create a safe and positive learning environment, but sometimes students can become aggressive and lash out due to behavioural problems and learning disabilities. In extreme cases, a teacher may need to take time off work to recover from their injuries. This is exactly what happened to ‘J’.
"I've been working with students who have complex behavioural and social/emotional mental health needs for the past ten years of my teaching career.
I always take great care to ensure that all the appropriate behavioural risk assessments are carried out and adhered to; and that the risks these behaviours can pose to staff are minimised. However, as we all know, we cannot plan for everything, and accidents can and do happen.”
‘J’ teaches in a class where there are nine students with complex needs, and he is often required to carry out manual handling. This leaves him in a vulnerable position.
“I've managed to avoid being bitten for most of my career, however it's an ever-present risk in our industry and one that we see occur all too often to others if not ourselves. I was working in a beautiful class with 9 complex needs students, five of whom were permanently wheelchair bound.
As any special needs teacher or learning support assistant knows, manual handling is a physically demanding and highly necessary part of the job and often leaves us at our most vulnerable.
Whilst assisting with a transfer for one of my students, I was bitten on the upper arm, through a jumper, a shirt, and an undershirt, breaking through the skin.
This led to not only the physical trauma to me, but emotional trauma to the student, who was scared at the reaction of other students and staff and was simply trying to communicate.”
Being bitten by a student can have serious consequences, both physically and mentally. The bite itself can cause pain, swelling, and even infection. On top of that, the emotional trauma of being attacked by a student can be difficult to overcome. Teachers may feel anxious or fearful about returning to the classroom and may require support from their colleagues or a mental health professional.
“This led to me having to attend hospital to undergo several tests and injections, as well as wound dressing. I was signed off for work for an entire week. This not only has a detrimental effect on me, but the entire classroom environment and management of the school, both financially and physically."
It is important for schools to take steps to prevent serious injuries from occurring and ensure the safety of teachers and students alike. This may include implementing behaviour management strategies, providing training to teachers on how to de-escalate situations, having clear policies in place for reporting incidents and considering protective clothing. By working together, schools can create a safe and supportive learning environment where everyone is protected.
About the Author
Patricia Ramon is the lead social media and digital marketing executives at BitePRO®, the world's first specialised brand of protective clothing, offering dependable scratch, pinch, and bite protection. Patricia is very passionate about the safety of both education and healthcare professionals, and that is clearly reflected in most of her blogs and the company’s digital content.