School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center

How Many Teachers Have Been Assaulted by Students or Parents? We Asked Educators

By Lauraine Langreo — August 09, 2022 1 min read
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More than 4 of every 10 educators said at least one teacher in their district has been physically assaulted or attacked by a student in the past year, a new EdWeek Research Center survey found.

In addition, 10 percent of educators said they personally have been physically assaulted or attacked by a student, according to the survey of 1,042 district leaders, principals, and teachers conducted between July 27 through Aug. 8.

Principals were the most likely to say they have been attacked, with 20 percent reporting such incidents. Eight percent of teachers reported being assaulted, and 5 percent of district leaders said they had similar experiences.

The findings echo recent survey results conducted by other organizations, such as the American Psychological Association, as well as anecdotal reports that pointed to an increase in student behavioral problems.

Some educators suggest the rise in student misbehavior could be associated with challenges related to returning to in-person learning after extended periods of remote or hybrid instruction. Many educators who took the survey lamented that there are students who don’t know how to interact with other people in the classroom setting.

“We had the worst year in terms of behavior and outbursts from students and parents we have ever [had],” said a middle school principal in Michigan who took the survey. “It was a year of emotional outbursts that we weren’t prepared for.”

An Indiana district leader agreed: “Student and parent behavior was worse than I have ever seen in 40-plus years of being a public school educator.”

Some educators also noted that managing student behavior is difficult because students often do not face proper consequences after physically assaulting or threatening a staff member. A district leader in Minnesota went as far as to say this is the reason “we are losing a lot of teachers.”

Other educators also mentioned having to deal with disrespectful behaviors or threats from parents. But most educators (82 percent) said no one in their district has been physically assaulted or attacked by a parent or guardian in the past year, the survey found.

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Data analysis for this article was provided by the EdWeek Research Center. Learn more about the center’s work.

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