Statistics on school indiscipline shocking
The latest figures available on school indiscipline give much cause for concern. We report today that more than 10,000 pupils were suspended and 73 expelled from schools in Northern Ireland between 2013 and 2016.
The information, revealed to the Belfast Telegraph following a Freedom of Information request, relates to more than 900 schools, and also indicates why the pupils were suspended or expelled.
Of the 73 who were expelled, 11 were guilty of physical attacks on fellow students; 10 for attacking staff members; eight for substance abuse; nine for verbal abuse; 17 for persistently breaking minor school rules, and six for disruptive behaviour.
Of the remaining, several received the ultimate sanction for bullying.
Further details in this sorry catalogue show that the highest number of punished pupils in a single school - a staggering 368 suspensions over a three-year period - was at St Joseph's Boys' School in Londonderry.
These figures bring home the reality of the threats in many of our schools, including the many attacks on members of staff.
Teaching is a difficult enough profession, but it is almost inconceivable that staff also have to run the gauntlet of physical violence in some schools.
Imagine setting off to teach each morning with that kind of threat hanging over your head.
It's also important to note that these figures of such worrying indiscipline apply to schools across the social spectrum, and not just to those in areas where violence may be thought more likely.
This is a massive problem for the education system, and Mark McTaggart of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation rightly states that his members are growing increasingly concerned about the rise in assaults.
However, this is also a problem for parents.
Childhood and teenage behaviour reflects the environment in the home, and it is the duty of parents to ensure their children are brought up properly to play a useful role in society.
The figures are worrying, and this behaviour is something that must be dealt with.
But it is also important to remember the large number of teachers and pupils who play a positive role in building up an overall system of education in Northern Ireland, which is the envy of many other parts of the UK.