Study says teacher violence caused by lack of student support

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Teachers in Ontario’s public elementary schools are more at risk than ever for violence, according to a new study.

The study by the University of Ottawa, entitled “Facing the Facts: The Escalating Crisis of Violence Against Elementary School Educators in Ontario,” showed that violence against teachers is going up partly due to a lack of investment in front-line support for students considered vulnerable.

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), said the increase in violence has lead to increased absenteeism in teachers.

“That’s leading to higher rates of sick leave and WSIB claims among educators for physical and-or psychological injuries that they suffer due to violence,” said Hammond.

He added that instances of violence are higher against teachers who have identified as disabled, racialized or members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Planned cuts in education from the Ontario government aren’t helping matters, said Hammond.

“The Ford Conservative government’s cuts to public education will only make matters worse,” said Hammond. “Without additional and dedicated resources for students with behavioural challenges based on actual need, violent incidents will continue to threaten the safety of educators, compromising teacher working conditions and student learning conditions. Ontario’s faulty education funding formula must be fixed.”

Some of the critical points in the study include the following:

  • An almost seven-fold increase in the experience of violence against educators since 2007, when the first Canadian survey was taken.
  • About 54 per cent of educators reported experiencing violence in the form of physical force, such as hitting, biting, and kicking, during the 2017-2018 school year. Also, 60 per cent reported an attempt to use physical violence, and 49 per cent experienced a threat to use physical force. The study showed that the student almost always initiated violence.
  • About 72 per cent of teachers reported experiencing some form of verbal abuse, such as yelling, cursing or insults, from a student. Forty-one per cent of teachers said that kind of abuse came from a parent or guardian.
  • Higher levels of either harassment or physical violence are associated with diminished physical and mental health as well as lower job performance. This was apparent even when assessed some six months after the school year in which the trouble occurred.

BlackburnNewsWindsor.com has reached out to the Greater Essex ETFO for local reaction to this report.