Violence against Ontario teachers leading some to wear body armor

Feb 15, 2018

A report issued recently by Buffalo's teachers' union found disruptive behavior to be a major problem in city classrooms. But the situation appears to be even worse north of the border. In Ontario, some troubling numbers are being disclosed about growing violence against teachers.

The head of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation says teachers report being punched, kicked, shoved, bitten and threatened. As a result, some teachers say they are even wearing body armor to school. The frequency of the violence is becoming more severe and the children at fault are becoming younger.
“Now, with this new data that’s being collected across the country, we are seeing that teachers are becoming more and more subject to incidences of violence in the classroom from children,” said CTF president Mark Ramsankar.

Ramsankar says 70% of elementary school teachers in Ontario say they have experienced or witnessed a violent incident against a staff member. That comes from a recent survey of about 20,000 teachers in the province.

The focus appears to be on the integration of children with special needs, including mental health, behavior and physical issues.
“Teachers across the country are reporting incidences of violence from younger children because the supports that are in the classrooms for teachers to work with some of the unique needs of these children are lacking," Ramsankar said.
Ramsankar says the situation, at present, makes for very unique and complex classrooms.

Many school boards and teachers association across the country have only recently begun to collect data on the subject.

Ramsankar says funding for elementary schools needs to be increased and school boards have to provide more staff and resources that would include better training and school-based mental health services.