The Lasting Effects after a Student Assaults a Teacher

Most educators don’t enter the field, thinking they will need to use self-defense tactics in the classroom. Violence and threats against educators is a serious problem with lasting effects. The attacks negatively impact not only the teacher who suffers the attack but also the student perpetrator, the rest of the student body, the future of the school and the community at large. Lawmakers and administrators need to collaborate and create solutions to the epidemic of student assaults on teachers. Here are some of the lasting effects student assaults on teachers have:

Schools struggle to retain and attract educators

When students assault teachers, it jeopardizes the quality of instruction at the school. Teachers attacked by students may suffer from PTSD or anxiety and be unable to return to work, or simply choose to leave because they no longer feel safe. This may also depend on the reaction of the school’s administration to these occurrences. If a teacher feels supported by the school administration after an attack, they are more likely to stay in their current position. In many cases, however, the teacher finds the response unacceptable, and the lack of support leads them to leave the school. Other educators or prospective hires are less likely to apply to work in schools where they have heard of assaults on teachers. This makes it hard for the school to retain and attract high-quality educators. The more frequently these assaults happen, and in more locations, the more college students may choose not to pursue the education field at all.

Violence creates an unsafe learning environment

Being around violence, even if they don’t witness or experience it firsthand, is stressful for students. Seeing or hearing about violence against teachers creates an environment where students don’t feel safe. Their perception of their teachers and other adults may shift as well. Instead of respected authority figures and protectors, students may not feel safe around teachers or may not respect their authority once they have seen them violently disrespected by another student. Students also see the administration’s reaction to these attacks, and if there are little or no consequences, they realize the level of behavior they can get away with at school. Studies show that chronic stress impedes learning and the ability to store and retrieve memories. If students don’t feel safe in the classroom, they won’t be able to learn as effectively. The chronic stress can also negatively impact their health and lead to a variety of physical and mental illnesses.

The student suffers, too

When a student attacks a teacher, they will almost always be labeled by students, teachers, and administrators as a problem child. They are more likely to receive punishment than any sort of rehabilitation, and the most likely punishment would be suspension or expulsion, impeding their education. Lashing out and attacking a teacher, while obviously inexcusable, is symptomatic of serious problems at home, emotional disturbance, or mental health issues. Attacking a teacher is a cry for help, but the student is unlikely to receive that help. Instead, the student, other students, the teacher, and the entire school suffers.

Violence against teachers is a serious problem in schools that needs to be addressed. Administrators and policymakers need to work together to create a system that works to protect both students and educators. The future of the educational field may depend on it.

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