The following are selected quotations from the December  2017-2018 Harassment and Violence against Educators (Ontario) Survey :
Educators speak about workplace violence:

  • “On multiple occasions I was hit, kicked, bit, pinched, spit at, had objects thrown at me, had my classroom trashed, materials dumped, and other kids pushed down or attacked. There were several evacuations of the other children from our learning space. What upset me the most was one day when a child lost it, we all had to leave for several hours. HOURS!”

  • “A grade 4 student, who is larger than I am, barred the classroom door and refused to let anyone in or out. This student lunged at me and pushed my arms out of the way and repeatedly hung up the phone as I attempted to call for support.”

  • “A student grabbed my breast and refused to let go. This was part of a game among a bunch of students to garner points for sexually explicit touching which the principal knew about and did nothing to stop or address.”

  • “A student trashed my classroom, smashed various items on the ground, climbed on countertops, threw scissors and other items at staff and attempted to attack staff with scissors and chairs. Students in the classroom started screaming and had to be evacuated to the neighbouring class.”

Educators speak about harassment on the job:

  • “Being mocked by the older children of the school due to my weight. Commenting on how pregnant I looked then referring to me just being fat.”

  • “Entire staff, including myself, experiencing constant belittling by administrator, yelled at, swear words, put downs. Half of our staff moved to new schools last year and a few took stress leave.”

  • “A student made inappropriate gestures behind my back, called me stupid in front of the class, disrespected me, told his family that I made comments to him that I did not. The family supported their son and started emailing and calling the school frequently. Parent yelled at me in front of all teaching staff. Told me that because I didn't do as she asked that I belittled her child and undermined her.”

Educators speak about the impact of workplace violence and harassment:

  • “We have students who need support not receiving it, and students allocated support not receiving it, because it goes to the highest needs and that’s often the high behavioural and safety issues. This means students who are quieter are not getting the support that they should be and are often entitled to. A shared support model does not work when some students require one-on-one support in order to function in a school setting and therefore someone else who also needs it loses out.”

  • “It is impossible to teach when you have to evacuate the class on a daily (and often several times daily) basis. Students need to feel safe at school, but if there is that one volatile student in their class, poof, they no longer have that sense of security. Violence begets violence.”

  • “I have never experienced such horrendous behaviour as I have in the past two years. I am very proud of my job and I love teaching and working with kids. However, the emotional and mental abuse that I have been subjected to on a daily basis, and the physical toll it has been taking on my body is unbelievable. 

Educators speak about the institutional response to workplace violence and harassment

  • “The principal did not like the fact we had filled out so many reports because of this student's ongoing aggressive behaviour because she felt it made her look bad.”

  • “[During an assault] a colleague down the hall came to help me. She called the office from her room. Admin came up to get the student. We've been told that the student has a right to education and that we need to be more accommodating, more engaging, more compassionate, more patient because the student has a difficult home life.”

  • “The school board’s definition of violence is very different from society’s. If a kid makes a fist and punches a teacher - that's not violence - that's learning frustration. And the child is frustrated because the educator who has been punched has failed at their job. The onus is on teachers to figure out what to do about violent students. School boards have their heads in the sand.”

  • “I reported it to the principal and vice-principal and asked to fill out an incident report to which they replied, ‘We'd prefer you didn't as too many reports will make us look bad to the board.’ I continued to document and gave the documents to the administrators, but nothing ever came of it. Another teacher was on leave from being injured by the same student.”

Educators speak about what needs to be done:

  • “We need more] support; there are so many students with behavioural concerns and support staff are constantly being pulled to work with these students as they're too disruptive to the teachers and other students in the classrooms. The support teachers being pulled are unable to then work with the students and teachers they have been assigned to work with (e.g., academic concerns).”

  • “Having a principal who does not abdicate her responsibility to address violence in a manner that protects teachers and students would help a lot.”

  • “Mental health resources to recognize signs and symptoms of mental disorders (depression, anxiety, mood, eating, OCD, etc.) and get immediate intervention/help. Behaviour TAs, child psychologists, counsellors, social workers, and nutritionists are desperately needed in our school system to deal with the socio-emotional issues that surface each and every day.”

  • “The ministry of education is interested in two things. Cutting costs (Support staff, class size, resources) and public relations (the optics). The full integration model looks great on paper but without the adequate support and financial commitments, student ARE NOT receiving the support and attention they NEED and DESERVE. Most behaviour students escalate as a result of academic frustrations and their continuous efforts to save face in front of their peers. The general public as no idea how little learning is occurring in schools. The learning is hijacked by students who have been ‘left behind’ as a result of a business approach to the education system.”