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Schools Are Hostile Work Environments: The Rise In Student Assaults on School Teachers


Crowd around police barricade while filming with cell phones.

The Rise In Student Assaults on School Teachers


The rise in student assaults on school teachers has raised concerns among educators, administrators, and parents. Students are posting videos of students assaulting teachers and other students throughout major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, TicTock, and Instagram. Often, the videos depict students beating teachers so badly that teachers are sent to hospitals; it is only a matter of time before one commits a homicide. When is enough, and how much should we expect teachers to put up with? This worrying trend significantly challenges teachers' safety, mental health, and overall well-being, creating a hostile work environment for teachers and students. While it is an issue of great concern, very little is being done to protect teachers from their students.



The Growing Epidemic of Violence Against Teachers and Teachers Experiencing Hostile Work Environments

Recent surveys and studies have revealed that violence against teachers is rising in the United States. A 2022 study by the American Psychological Association

Reported at least one out of three teachers, or 33%, said at least one incident of verbal harassment or threatening behavior from a student, and 29% reported at least one incident from a parent of a student. The numbers were even higher for school administrators: Approximately 37% reported at least one incident of harassment or threat of violence from a student, and 42% reported the same from a parent.
The survey found nearly half (49%) of teachers expressed a desire or plan to quit or transfer to another school. More teachers reported a desire to quit (43%) than to transfer (26%). Although not as high as among teachers, a large percentage of school psychologists and school social workers (34%), school administrators (31%), and other school staff (29%) also reported a desire or plan to quit or transfer.

The Prevalence of Violent Incidents


Violent incidents in schools include a wide range of behaviors, such as:

  • Physical attacks, including hitting, kicking, punching, biting, shoving, and hair pulling

  • Being spit at

  • Having items thrown at them

  • Being screamed at

  • Being cursed at

  • Receiving death threats

  • Experiencing the destruction of classroom items as well as personal belongings

  • Being stalked and harassed by students outside of school, both physically and through social media

  • Having pets, children, spouses, friends, and colleagues threatened

  • Being mocked and made fun of for a wide variety of reasons

  • Having vicious rumors and lies spread throughout the school or community

  • Being stolen from

These violent incidents are not limited to older students. Elementary teachers have also reported being bitten, kicked, punched, stabbed with scissors, or threatened and assaulted by parents.

Factors Contributing to the Rise in Violence Against Teachers

Increased teacher and administrator assaults are a complex issue and far too extensive to comprehensively cover why some students become violent toward their teachers, as multiple factors can often contribute to this behavior. However, there are several potential explanations that researchers and educators have suggested:

Exposure To Violence At Home

Students exposed to violence at home or in their communities may be more likely to engage in violent behavior, including toward their teachers.

Trauma

Students who have experienced trauma, such as abuse or neglect, may struggle with emotional regulation and may be more likely to engage in violent behavior.

Inadequate Mental Health Support and Resources

Teachers struggle to manage and respond to students' outbursts and aggressive behaviors. Students who struggle with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, or conduct disorders, may be more prone to aggressive behavior and struggle to regulate emotions.

Insufficient Consequences for Violent Behavior

Students who engage in violent behavior sometimes face minimal or no consequences. This lack of accountability can lead to a normalization of violence and aggression within the school environment.

School Climate and Culture

A hostile school climate and culture can contribute to increased violence against teachers. In schools where bullying and aggression are prevalent, students may feel more inclined to engage in violent behavior toward their teachers.

Disruptive classroom environments

Classrooms with high levels of disruptive behavior and poor classroom management can create an atmosphere of tension and frustration that can lead to violence.

Lack of support for teachers

When students do not receive the support and resources they need to succeed academically and socially, they may become frustrated and act out. Similarly, teachers who feel unsupported and overworked may be more likely to experience burnout and respond negatively to challenging student behaviors.


The Consequences of Violence Against Teachers

The consequences of violence against teachers are far-reaching and can significantly impact teachers and students. Since the passing of President George Bush's No Child Left Behind and President Barack Obama's, Every Student Succeeds Act; there has been a rapid decline in overall test scores and a stark increase in the number of students assaulting educators, administrators, and support staff.


The U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education knows most parents are asleep regarding their child's public education. They have partnered with the Marxist extreme liberal policymakers to bring Critical Race Theory into our public schools, public charter schools, and higher education systems from P.K. through Higher Education.


The highly liberal American Psychological Association seems to ignore the parents' role in addressing their child's behavior by creating another task force that has identified a series of actions that could be taken by Congress (PDF, 40 K.B.), including enacting bills being considered and funding priorities that could help address the issues identified by the survey. However, it is nothing more than wasteful spending and more DEI or CRT initiatives:

Invest in policies that grow and diversify the educator workforce.


H.R. 542, Save Education Jobs Act (Wasteful Spending)

Strengthens the education workforce by addressing the loss of teachers and other critical personnel, such as school-based mental health providers across the country, by providing up to $261 billion to states and school districts over ten years to save education jobs, including those of teachers, school psychologists, paraprofessionals, social workers, nurses, and specialized instructional support personnel.

The H.R. 6205, S. 3360, Educators for America Act (aims to hire more DEI educators and CRT Training in Universities)

Reauthorizes Title II of the Higher Education Act to build the capacity of educator preparation programs to ensure all students have access to profession-ready educators; recruit new and diverse educators into the profession; invest in partnership between higher education, state, and local partners, and support innovation to meet the changing needs of students.


Increase funding for programs that train educators


Title II, Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants Program (The parent bill H.R. 6205, S. 3360

Which aims to hire more diverse educators and fund CRT training of university professors). A Provides states and school districts with formula funding that ensures that educators, principals, and school leaders receive the professional learning and leadership skills needed to support every student.

(SEED) Supporting Effective Educator Development Grant Program (CRT training for P.K. - Higher Education Student)

It provides for teacher professional development and pathways into teaching that provide a strong foundation in child development and learning, including skills for implementing social and emotional learning strategies.

(IDEA) Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part D (a more benign proposal)

Includes national activities to improve the education of children with disabilities, such as funds for personnel training, including special education teachers, and grants to enhance the teaching and transitional services provided to students with disabilities.

Create sustainable pathways to meet students' mental and behavioral health needs holistically (Key word that might be missed - holistically)


H.R. 721/S. 1841, Mental Health Services for Students Act

Builds partnerships between local educational agencies, tribal schools, and community-based organizations to provide school-based mental health care for students and provides training for the entire school community to help identify early warning signs of a crisis and prevent its escalation.

H.R. 3572/S. 1811, Increasing Access to Mental Health in Schools Act (Allowing schools to assign emotional learning infused with CRT to students and ignoring the parents' role or responsibility in their child's mental health or aggressive behaviors)

Expands mental health services in low-income schools by supporting partnerships between institutions of higher education and local education agencies to increase the number of school-based mental health professionals, including psychologists.

H.R. 3549/S. 2730, Comprehensive Mental Health in Schools Pilot Program Act

This bill aims to implement and evaluate students through trauma-informed training. The training suggests that all black Americans have experienced trauma due to systemic racism. In addition, it is tied to IDEA and Special Education Programs by allowing school psychologists to diagnose students as having trauma due to systemic racism. Provides resources for low-income schools to develop a holistic approach to student well-being by building, implementing, and evaluating comprehensive school-based mental health service programs, including training educators and other school staff on integrating social and emotional learning and evidence-based, trauma-informed practices into all aspects of schools.


Increase funding for programs that provide school-based mental health services.


Title IV-A, Student Support, and Academic Enrichment Program

A flexible block grant program that funds school districts to improve students' academic achievement, including by improving school conditions and climate through enhanced mental health services, social and emotional learning, and trauma-informed practices.

Safe and Supportive Schools National Initiatives

Oddly, it is written as if it is to increase school security. However, the vast majority of schools still need an increased presence of security in school hallways. Schools are hiring a security staff member anchored to a desk creating security protocols without providing any real protection. This allows schools access to more funds, yet how are the funds being used? The funds are certainly not being used to increase teacher pay. These programs address the health and well-being of students, school safety, security, and emergency management and preparedness, including those focused on mental and emotional well-being and development.

Project AWARE (Provides additional funding for CRT training and addressing trauma through systemic racism)

Provides grants to increase awareness of mental health issues among students, trains school personnel and other adults on students' mental and emotional health concerns, and connects students and families to needed behavioral health services.


Members of the APA task force that conducted the study were:

Susan D. McMahon (DePaul University), Eric M. Anderman (The Ohio State University), Ron Avi Astor (University of California, Los Angeles), Dorothy L. Espelage (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Andrew Martinez (Center for Court Innovation), Linda A. Reddy (Rutgers University), and Frank C. Worrell (University of California, Berkeley)


Effects on Teachers

Teachers who experience violence and aggression from their students may suffer from a range of physical and emotional consequences, including:

  • Physical injuries, such as bruises, cuts, and fractures

  • Psychological trauma, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Burnout and job dissatisfaction

  • A desire to leave the profession or transfer to another school

Effects on Students

Violence against teachers can also have negative consequences for students who are witness to attacks, including:

  • Disruptions to the learning environment

  • Increased stress and anxiety among students

  • Negative impacts on students' academic performance and overall well-being

Students can go to jail if they hit a teacher in the U.S. Assaulting a teacher is a serious offense that can result in criminal charges and potentially lead to imprisonment. The severity of the punishment will depend on the specific circumstances of the incident and the laws of the state in which it occurred. However, schools are not likely to file charges against students in fear of public protest with claims of racism or somehow placing blame upon the schools.


In general, assaulting a teacher is considered a felony offense, and the penalties for such crimes can include fines, probation, community service, and imprisonment. Additionally, schools may have disciplinary policies that could result in suspension, expulsion, or other consequences for the student. Yet, the likeliness of suspension, expulsion, or other consequences is low as the U.S. Department of Education and State Department of Education reward schools based on enrollment numbers. School Principals are not likely to suspend or expel a student because it is frowned upon by school superintendents. Additionally, with the increased CRT - DEI policies in place, claims of racism are at higher risk.

It is crucial for students to understand that violence against teachers is never acceptable and can have serious consequences, both legally and academically. Students should always seek to resolve conflicts peacefully and respectfully and seek help from school administrators or counselors if they are struggling with anger or aggression issues.

Addressing the Issue: Potential Solutions and Strategies

To address the rise in violence against teachers, schools, and districts must implement a comprehensive approach that includes a combination of prevention, intervention, and support strategies. The U.S. Department of Education believes CRT training and social-emotional learning initiatives will resolve the issues. However, recent events show this is not meant to create a safe environment. Instead, it is intended to spread Critical Race Theory and promote racism against white Americans.


Teachers can create a safe and supportive learning environment by modeling positive behavior, setting clear expectations for behavior, and providing opportunities for students to learn and practice positive social skills. They can also refer students to school counselors or mental health professionals if they have concerns about a student's mental health or well-being. In some cases, teachers may need to intervene in a student's behavior to ensure the safety of other students or themselves. However, as we have seen with Daniel Penny, who rescued New Yorkers on a train car, the risk of being arrested or having a lawsuit filed against them is extremely high. Teachers will likely not respond to aggressive students, school fights, or escalations, further promoting anarchy within our public schools. Supporting students' mental health and well-being is a collaborative effort involving parents, teachers, school counselors, and mental health professionals. By working together, we can create a supportive and nurturing environment that helps all students to thrive.


It is ultimately the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children behave appropriately and do not engage in aggressive or violent behavior towards others, including their teachers. Parents play an essential role in shaping their children's attitudes and behaviors, and they are responsible for teaching their children to respect authority figures and communicate effectively and respectfully with others.

Parents can help prevent aggressive behavior by setting clear expectations for their child's behavior, teaching them appropriate conflict resolution skills, and monitoring their behavior and interactions with others. If a child does engage in aggressive behavior towards a teacher or other authority figure, it is the parent's responsibility to take appropriate action to address the behavior and prevent it from happening again. And the public must begin holding parents accountable for their child's behavior. A large population of students has absent parents who need to assume their parental role. In this case, to give more value to teaching children to respect their teachers or other individuals with authority, we need to hold the parents responsible for their minor child's aggressive behavior by other means other than financial lawsuits.


Parents need to talk to the child about their behavior and its impact on others, provide consequences for the conduct, and seek outside support from school counselors, mental health professionals, or other resources as needed. By taking responsibility for their child's behavior and working collaboratively with teachers and other professionals, parents can help ensure their child receives the support and guidance they need to develop healthy social and emotional skills and succeed in school and life.


Improving School Climate and Culture

Creating a positive school climate and culture is essential for preventing and addressing violence against teachers. Schools can work towards this goal by:

  • Implementing tighter truancy policies.

  • Financially awarding schools for fewer aggressive onsight incidents.

  • Encouraging open communication and collaboration among students, teachers, and administrators

  • Pass laws that protect teachers' First Amendment rights. Nearly all school systems have policies that stop teachers from discussing school matters with anyone outside of the school district. If teachers sound the alarm on such issues as CRT, DEI, school violence, etc., they are immediately warned and threatened with being fired. We must protect teachers and create a law allowing free and open communication with the public.

  • Hiring on-site police officers to assist with aggressive students.

Establishing Clear Policies and Consequences for Violent Behavior

Schools must have clear policies and consequences in place for students who engage in violent behavior, including:

  • Implementing a tiered system of consequences for different types of violent behavior

  • Ensuring that consequences are consistently enforced across the school

  • Providing support and resources for students who have engaged in violent behavior to help them learn and grow from their actions

In conclusion, the rise in students assaulting teachers is a complex and concerning issue requiring a comprehensive and collaborative approach. By establishing clear policies and consequences for violent behavior and supporting and protecting teachers, schools can work towards creating a safe and nurturing environment where both teachers and students can thrive. By improving school climate and culture, America will see higher educational attainment amongst student performance. However, this can only be done once we dismantle the initial policies that enabled the current issues we see today. Call your legislators and let them know that we need to revoke the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) passed by Congress in 2015, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Additionally, we must revoke or impede the proposals earmarked and attached to ESSA or otherwise stated above.


Citizens can express their opinions and concerns about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to their elected representatives in Congress.


To voice your opinion on ESSA, you can contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives and share your thoughts and concerns about the law. You can do this by sending an email or letter, making a phone call, or scheduling an in-person meeting with your representative or their staff. You can also attend town hall meetings or public events hosted by your representatives to share your views.


It is important to note that ESSA is a federal law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama, so it would require an act of Congress to revoke or change the law. It is up to elected representatives to introduce and vote on legislation related to education policy.


Overall, citizen engagement and advocacy are essential ways to shape education policy and ensure that all stakeholders' voices are heard. When contacting your representatives, it can be helpful to be specific about your concerns and offer suggestions for improving the law. Sharing personal experiences or examples illustrating the law's impact on you, your children, or your community is valuable.


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