Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland teachers suffer abuse from pupils on regular basis: study

Legal duty: Chris Keates
Legal duty: Chris Keates

By Mark McConville

Teachers in Northern Ireland have revealed they've been "kicked, shoved, punched and spat upon" and been told "that's what you get paid for" when they complained to management.

A study by the NASUWT union found that 57% of teachers had been subjected to verbal abuse from a pupil in the last year and 27% said they had been verbally abused by a parent or carer.

The annual Big Question survey carried out earlier this year also found 18% had received threats of physical assault by a pupil in the preceding 12 months and 14% had actually been physically assaulted. Two percent had been threatened with physical assault by a parent or carer.

A Co Down teacher with more than 25 years said there is no real punishment for violent or abusive pupils.

"The physical abuse is now commonplace too. My colleagues and I have been kicked, shoved, punched and spat on. I had a glass window smashed beside my head. Colleagues have had chairs and desks thrown at them.

"When I've complained about abuse, I've been told that's what you get paid for."

Another teacher, from a well-regarded grammar school, claimed teachers have to laugh it off as it has become "part and parcel" of the job, with parents causing as much bother as pupils.

She said: "I know parents have threatened to come to colleagues' houses and started smear campaigns on Facebook where they slandered teachers.

"I even know primary school teachers who have been hit by children or their parents."

The NASUWT is calling on employers of teachers in Northern Ireland to make a clear commitment to protecting them from verbal and physical abuse.

General Secretary Chris Keates said: "All teachers and head teachers are entitled to a safe working environment free from violence and abuse. Employers have a legal duty of care to provide this.

"Verbal and physical abuse is not part of the job."

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