“I am sorry, guys, but unfortunately I have been called to the office, please grab your green folders and go to the classroom written on the front of it.”
Immediate chaos. Then the questions.
“Where are you goinggggg?”
“Are you in troubllleeeee?????”
Whispers of “Who did it?” or “Who’s fightin’?”
I began to anxiously herd them out of my classroom so I could respond to some kind of violence going on in the building. I was part of “THE Crisis Response team” at school. Teacher Translation: The half fed up, half heart broken faculty members who coming running when anybody needs help quickly.
It’s usually a fight between two students.
But Not Today. Today was Different.
“She HIT you?”
“Yeah. Fuck Yeah. About twenty times. In the face” she shivered.
“Oh My God!! Are you okay? EMS is on its way,” I was really loud and ghost white.
But I tried to calm my coworker. Two minutes ago, she was on the floor of her classroom, being pummeled by her student’s fists?!?!?!?!
Most teachers I have worked with don’t ever even give it a single thought. But it is becoming a real problem all over the country. Our Media seems to favor stories about teacher-turned-felons, rather than the victimization of teachers.
The Rest of the Story
The National Center for Education Statistics produces a report each year called “Indicators of School Crime and Safety”. The 2011 report stated that 9.2% of teachers had been threatened with violence, and 5.4% of teachers had actually been physically attacked.
Just under 6% doesn’t seem alarming, but being in the education field makes me question just how many cases go unreported due to school’s concerns about public opinion.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, hosts the APA task force on Classroom Violence Directed at Teachers. Recently, they published an article based on a survey of educators about violence against teachers. Conducted in 2011, the survey solicited anonymous responses from almost 3,000 K-12 teachers in 48 states. The results showed that 80 percent of teachers surveyed were victimized at school at least once in the current school year or prior year.
This is quite a wide margin of difference between reported figures, and unfortunately, there are very few other reports or sources of information for comparison.
For good reasons, U.S. school districts are under much scrutiny from the public to be safe and constructive places for student learning. However, this sometimes causes incidents that would tarnish a school’s or district’s reputation to be “dealt with internally” or shoved under the rug away from public knowledge.
I was shocked to see my school’s response.
The next day I was fully prepared to hear the soft rustle of the natives organizing and preparing to address teacher assault and its prevention at our school. During shared planning periods, I figured there would be whispers of needing more security and hazardous duty pay.
My co-teachers are famous for circling their wagons and finding solutions to problems, but this didn’t cause the their usual response.
Not one mention of yesterday’s assault during one of my unnecessary meetings I had that day. Nobody wanted to discuss it. It was rumored administration has requested silence from the parties involved.
Did someone or something stop them from their usual activation, organization and attack strategies for a good cause? I don’t know. I hope that my administration would do the right thing but, as I mentioned before, the scrutiny of public education is rampant everywhere.
Unfortunately, until our federal and state administrations get over their “ego” and begin to shine a light on all the problems and become open to listening to the people most intrictly involved in education (i.e. teachers) this problem (and the others) will continue to grow.
And so will the teacher shortage.