The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) has released results of a comprehensive member survey on violence in the classroom.
“The stories of violence against teachers that have been emerging over the past few months are heartbreaking, but until now there has been a lack of hard data to illustrate the scope and scale of the problem,” says Ann Hawkins, OECTA President. “The results of this survey clearly show that violence in the classroom is a real and growing crisis, with significant consequences for teacher well-being and student learning conditions. Furthermore, although our Association has been raising this issue with the government and school boards for years, Catholic teachers feel that violence is still not being taken seriously by school administrators, and that the government’s existing policies and procedures are insufficient.”
The survey was conducted in May by Pollara Strategic Insights, one of Canada’s leading polling firms. Catholic teachers from across the province participated. The results are statistically valid, with a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 per cent.
“The results are shocking,” continues Hawkins. “Almost 90 per cent of Catholic teachers have experienced some form of violence or harassment, many of them multiple times. Eighty-five per cent say that the incidence of violence is increasing, and 80 per cent say that incidents are becoming more severe.”
Examples of violence include verbal threats, physical assault, and incidents involving weapons. More than three-quarters of teachers say that the lasting damage of violence in schools is negatively affecting the classroom, while two-thirds say that school administrators are often reluctant to deal with the issue. This means teachers are not made aware of the resources and processes available to them, the incidence of violence is not accurately tracked, and individual incidents and students are not dealt with appropriately. There is an urgent need for the government to provide clear direction on how to report and manage incidents of violence, as well as adequate programs and professional supports to meet the needs of students whose behaviour threatens the safety and well-being of their teachers and classmates.
“We appreciate the recent efforts from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour,” says Hawkins. “But given this data, there can be no doubt about the magnitude of the problem or the need for immediate, meaningful action.”
For an Information Package highlighting the survey’s key findings, click here.