Belfast Telegraph

Parents can help end school violence

Editor's Viewpoint

The latest statistics about violent behaviour in schools are deeply disturbing. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that police are called to schools six times each day, and some of the offences included attempted murder and assault.

According to the PSNI, a total of 317 physical attacks were recorded in schools during 2014, and police officers were called in more than 2,000 times.

Many schools have installed panic buttons. The figures released also show that 13 illegal weapons were seized by the police from schools last year.

The age of some children involved is also shocking. One classroom had to be evacuated after a child of five assaulted three staff, including the school principal.

Peter Weir, chairman of the Stormont Education committee, has rightly described the number of incidents as "disturbingly high", but the major question facing everyone is what can be done about it.

The general-secretary of the Ulster Teachers' Union, Avril Hall-Callaghan, blames the class sizes and lack of resources as part of the reason for such violence.

These developments are bound to affect the morale of teachers, who have undergone a long process of education themselves.

Teaching at best is a noble calling, but at worst there is nothing noble about young teachers - and those with more experience - having to deal with serious violence from pupils within the school environment.

It is also unrealistic to expect the police to solve this serious problem of violence in schools. Clearly, many situations have arisen where the schools cannot cope, and the police have had to be called in.

This represents a situation of a 'last resort', but this is not the best way to deal with such a serious problem. By the time the police are called in, the situation is partly out of control. There is an onus on the schools not to allow things to get to that stage.

However, one of the most important points is that the discipline of children begins at home, and there is no point in laying the blame on schools, teachers and the education system if parents do not play their part.

The education of our children is too important to be part of a 'blame-game'.

This is everybody's problem, and the parents have as much responsibility as anyone else to start sorting it out.

Belfast Telegraph


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