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- Conversations About Betsy DeVos - February 14, 2017
- A Dear John Letter to My Career in Education - January 17, 2017
- Chicken Little: The World of Education - December 13, 2016
- Will President-Elect Trump be Good for Education? - November 14, 2016
- Dear Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities - November 10, 2016
- Faith in Transition - August 25, 2016
- Tri'ing and Teaching - August 2, 2016
A few weeks ago, a student needed a pencil. In my classroom, when students don’t bring in their own supplies, I will lend them one, when they give me some sort of meaningful collateral like their student I.D. (needed for lunch and library), a sweatshirt, or even their shoes. I need my pencils back for other students; I’m not Walmart! So, he needed a pencil. I told him it was fine, what would I get in exchange? He tried to give me a toy electric zapper. You know those those things at the dollar bins at local department stores, Walmart, or wherever? They’re little palm-sized toys that give you an electrical shock when it’s pressed against another person. They give you quite a zap, especially when you are not expecting it. I told this student his toy was not acceptable because one, it could hurt me; and two, he should not have toys at school.
He latched onto “it could hurt me,” and asked more about it, while trying to shove the zapper at me. I told him I had a special machine that makes my heart work (a pacemaker), and if electricity interrupts it, it could hurt me. He laughed, he jabbed at me more, he said, “No way!” I confirmed what I had just said as he lunged over and over. I called for my assistant to come over and help; he lunged. I told him to stop, I could die. He laughed, “Die?! Cool! From this thing?! No way!” I told my assistant to take it from him, he tried to compromise and offered to put it in his locker. I allowed it, because I knew as soon as I reported the incident, it would be removed. Eventually, we got him into the hallway, another teacher intervened to get the toy an the student repeatedly laughed, asking me if I would wiggle when I hit the ground, dead; or would I just drop down? The other teacher got between us, I left the scene, and went to report the incident as he continued to escalate in the hallway.
Now, this child is a normally developing person. There is no medical, or educational reason for his behavior. He should have known better than to threaten me. As I shared my story here and there, I began to hear more and more teachers tell me they’ve been threatened, intimidated, bullied, harassed, or even fully attacked by students. It made me wonder how prevalent a situation like this was so I researched it a little. Through further research, I found that 80% of teachers have had some sort of violence placed on them from the students they teach.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"]80% of teachers have had some sort of violence placed on them from the students they teach. Click To Tweet
This definition of violence was loosely defined: name calling, bullying, intimidation to change grades, intimidation to give in to social pressures, threats, and full on physical attacks. Of those who have had some sort of violence against them, almost 28% have had actual violence committed against them, including hitting, spitting, kicking, punching, and weapons. Another student confirmed these numbers, and went on to say that special education teachers were ranked third in workplace violence. This was just behind police officers and mental health workers. This was followed by middle school teachers, and then high school teachers.
All of this made me wonder, why? Why is there so much violence in schools, against teachers?
Sure, it’s been a while since I’ve been in elementary/secondary school but I do not remember this happening. Some of the theories include parents who are either too harsh on their child, or they give too much leniency. As well, there are teachers who are the same way…too harsh on the students, or they are too nice. Researchers also cite school procedures, in and of themselves contribute to the problem. And there is also the theory of a child’s exposure to violence. According to a study done by the American Association of Pediatrics, children are significantly more likely to emulate aggression after viewing aggression or violence on TV, video games, or at home.
Regardless of the reasons, schools should consider protecting their teachers from students who threaten, intimidate, bully, or actually attack teachers. It’s quite the conundrum ;however, if a child has a disability. At what point do schools or adults draw the line in the abuse toward teachers? Researchers state tight rules and expectations in schools to protect teachers, but we are a school. How do we decide, essentially, which is more important? The safety of a teacher, or the education of a child?
Have you ever had violence committed against you in your school? How did your school protect you?
Wilson, Douglas, Lyon (2011). Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 26(12).
Espelage, D.; Anderman, E.; Brown, V.; Jones, A.; Lane, K.; McMahon, S.; Reddy, L.; Reynolds, C. (2013). Understanding and preventing violence directed against teachers: Recommendations for a national research, practice, and policy agenda. American Psychologist, Vol 68(2), 75-87.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]