Student Violence Against Teachers

I interrupted my scheduled blog post to discuss this. It is 7:22 am as I type this. Before prepping the blog, I was looking for something else unrelated to education in the news and stumbled across yet another headline of yet another student kicking an older female teacher…while she was down on the ground. I do not want to watch the video at this time. It’s too much and honestly, absolutely appalling and uncalled for.

We have a problem. Anyone who does not think we do is…naïve. I love students. Kids have kept me in this profession for 15 years. Is society changing? Yes. For the better? Not necessarily. Do we standby and tolerate any violence against teachers let alone students in our schools? I don’t even think so.

Teachers are leaving the profession. Fewer and fewer people want to be teachers. Sadly many will say it is not because of the students. They are right. Unfavorable income and benefits, working 1-2 additional jobs to make ends meet with rising costs of living, being blamed for everything wrong in education with little to no support…I understand all too well.

Students Attacking Teachers

I will say this right now. I will not pretend to have all the answers to every ill of modern society but one thing that is making some students believe they can get away with this is lack of discipline…at home and from school system authority. Never in my mind, as a child or teenager, did it cross my mind to willfully stand up, push a teacher on the ground then attack, cuss them out in front of the class then try to punch them or crawl on the teacher’s desk in front of the class, stand over my teacher and taunt him by pretending to kick his face with my foot…you have to be out of your mind (this was a real incident by the way I saw recently online). Any child standing by laughing and pointing is just as guilty.

This stems first from a lack of parenting at home. In my career, I have had wonderful parents with beautiful children. I have also had students making it in spite of their parents. Parents are home (sometimes) but there is little parenting. When a child says or does something disrespectful or rude to a parent, there is little repercussion if any. What you allow at home magnifies at school. What you think is cute may not be cute to a teacher dealing with a classroom of 22-30 or students. It is that simple. It is further magnified with a negative peer group egging a student on.

I, for the most part do NOT blame the teacher in extremely violent attacks against the teacher. Some people will say “If that teacher had proper procedures and techniques in place from the beginning, that student would not have been compelled to act in that manner.” First, take a seat.

Every teacher should have a discipline policy in place. No, behavior should be chaos in a classroom. Teachers are responsible for most (not all) student behavior in class. I have had great teachers growing up—and I had bad ones as well. I also had passive substitutes that read magazines while we worked and yelled at the class. I also had substitutes that were excellent at what they did. Yes, we tried some of the substitutes (passing notes, snickering etc.) and sometimes even a classroom teacher, but it did not mean we shoved them to the ground and kicked them. There are people in life you are not going to like–what they say, the commands they give etc., and they won’t like you either. Welcome to something called “LIFE.” That doesn’t mean I need to start drop kicking you or punching you unconscious.

I stand in solidarity with educators in the U.S. and abroad, however different teachers have different experiences. Some teachers have bubbly classrooms and children (not saying they don’t have their own challenges)–having more freedom for creativity, support and implementing great procedural systems and the like.

That’s cute, but that’s not everybody’s story. Every teacher is not assigned to the sweet elementary or favorable academic middle school or high school on the nice side of town. Some teachers are in borderline war zones. All the dynamic discipline programs in creation can’t prepare them for what they deal with…but they teach and cope beautifully. When a student shouts expletives down the hall at you and a colleague, you don’t have time to remember 7 questions to build rapport with a troubled student. Honey, please.

This is where common sense kicks in. This is where back up disciplinary school action kicks in but unfortunately, the lack thereof is failing our students and teachers. I too have seen it with my own eyes.

About 5 1/2 years ago, I was a team leader. My colleague across the hall had a student who cussed him OUT in class and in the hallway. Her mother thought she could do no wrong and that the school was picking on her child. No ma’am.

If I was able to hear her talking back to her teacher, I would step in to intervene. One day, my colleague had enough after she cussed him out. He sent to her to the office and she was sent back to class…30 minutes later. What did this communicate to the rest of that class when she was sent back? It communicated to that middle school class that it was just fine to attack this teacher and completely disrespect him whenever they got ready. That’s exactly what they did. It communicated to the girl that she could do whatever she wanted in front of the class and get a “wrist slap.”

He ended up walking out on his planning period several months later (after notifying the office) and never came back. He resigned that day. A human can only take so much. Not a professional, a human.

There are very good administrators and school support out there and schools that are being run beautifully… don’t get me wrong. Unfortunately, however, they are not widespread enough.

Social Media

Social media is not the root of every ill of society. Social media can be very positive and I enjoy it myself if it is positive, humorous (without hurting someone), and informative. Animal videos are some of my favorites especially puppy videos (say “awwwww”). This unfortunately is not always the case. It has a dark side and guess who likes to venture on that side without supervision–our students.

Many students idolize fame not understanding the cost and downside of it all. They see fights, violence, videos and everything in between. They don’t understand that the stunt the YouTuber just pulled can literally get them kicked out of school, injured or even killed. Every YouTuber is not bad (I love a good makeup tutorial or opinion vlog), but some however, crave views and are really negative influences…especially to our kids.

To Carry Guns or Not to Carry Guns in School

I say NO. I have had students (secondary level) tell me they do not want to see some of their teachers carry guns…ouch. I didn’t tell them, but I completely agreed. Just because you are okay at teaching students background check and cleared a doesn’t mean you are stable enough to carry a weapon around students. Just saying. I have had past coworkers who have had opinions that were outright disturbing who really did not need to teach kids let alone walk around with a weapon in front of them or in the same classroom. Kids can see through that. They know who is fake and who is not, who pretends to like them and who really loves them.

You don’t fight violence with more violence. It destroys everyone. Tighten security? You betcha. There should be at least two security guards/officers on every campus at all times in addition to other vital safety measures. This could also help create more jobs. I don’t have time to worry if my pistol is loaded properly while trying to devise an innovative new way to teach figurative language in 45 minutes. Help us.

Student Violence Against Teachers? It is a multifaceted issue but one that surprisingly can be solved with common sense and intentional teacher-led and administrator-led school level reform with students at the heart. Our future depends on it.

What are your thoughts on this? Comment below!

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