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Violence against teachers: 1 in 5 educators say they don’t report incidents

Photo: Steve Debenport/iStockphoto

Columbus, OH — One out of five teachers who experiences physical or verbal violence on the job does not report it to school administrators, according to a study led by researchers at Ohio State University.

The researchers surveyed 3,403 kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers. Of the 2,505 who said they had been a victim of some form of violence:

  • 25 percent reported actual physical abuse or assault.
  • 20 percent reported threats of physical violence.
  • 37 percent described verbal insults, disrespectful language or inappropriate sexual advances.

However, 20 percent never informed an administrator about the incident, approximately 14 percent did not tell a co-worker and nearly 24 percent kept the news from family.

“You would think that the first thing a teacher would do after a violent encounter or threat would be to tell the school’s administrators, but 20 percent aren’t even doing that. That’s disturbing,” Eric Anderman, lead author and professor of educational psychology at Ohio State University, said in March 7 press release. “Too many teachers aren’t talking to anyone about what happened.”

The researchers also found that teachers were more likely to talk with co-workers about violence than with administrators – 8 percent described a lack of support when they reported violence.

“Some schools may need to re-evaluate how they can support and help teachers who are victims of violence,” Anderman said.

The researchers, who suggest further research is needed, said the findings can help administrators provide support for teachers.

“When teachers’ reactions to experiences of violence are examined within the larger context of research on effective classroom management and the descriptive literature on predictors of victimization, more effective policies, services, supports and interventions to assist teachers after such experiences can be developed, tested and disseminated,” the researchers said.

The study was published online March 6 in the journal Social Psychology of Education.

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