Fifth of school staff assaulted once a week in Northern Ireland, say unions
One in five school staff here are assaulted once a week, a survey has revealed.
The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Committee of Trade Unions (ICTU) Education Group released the findings of a major survey of teachers and support staff today.
It also found that one in three education workers experience physical abuse annually, 83% have been verbally abused in the classroom, and 45% have been verbally abused by parents.
The results also show some education workers receive far more abuse than others, and that there is not adequate support for those assaulted.
Some 88% of special education teachers have received verbal or physical abuse, while 95% of support staff, such as classroom assistants, have been assaulted.
The survey, carried out by nine trade unions in October 2018, was conducted in response to concerns raised by members in relation to levels of violence in schools, and unions say lack of funding is compounding the problem.
The chair of the NIC-ICTU Education Group, Denise Walker (GMB), said that it is not unreasonable to expect schools should be safe places to protect both pupils and staff.
"Everyone expects and is entitled to go to work free from the threat of physical violence but if you work in one of Northern Ireland's schools in a support role, you could be one of the 51% who have been subjected to a physical incident at work," she said.
"Forty-three per cent of whom reported having been a victim of physical violence weekly.
"With only 34% of victims receiving any form of support and action taken in only 22% of incidents, our support staff are feeling exposed and unsupported.
"Classroom assistants and support staff work in schools helping some of the most vulnerable pupils, yet they receive little or no support when they need it most.
"Over 54% of teaching staff felt supported after reporting similar incidents and while this is still too low, it demonstrates that the support structures are just not being applied adequately or equally. This is totally unacceptable.
"The Education Authority and Department of Education must act now to eradicate the threat of violence in our schools."