School Climate & Safety Opinion

Talent Managers’ Role in Preventing Violence Against Teachers

By Emily Douglas-McNab — August 03, 2015 2 min read
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This is a guest post by Naima Khandaker. Naima is a Human Capital Consultant at Battelle for Kids and a Ph.D. student in Educational Psychology at The Ohio State University.

Earlier this summer, the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics released their annual Indicators of School Crime and Safety report. K-12 Talent Managers may be especially interested in the section on teacher victimization, an issue that receives surprisingly little attention. The report finds that during the 2011-12 school year, 9 percent of teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student, and 5 percent said they had been physically attacked by a student.

However, these numbers may not tell the whole story. The American Psychological Association took a closer look at violence against teachers in 2011, assembling a task force of experts to conduct one of the few national studies examining the issue. Based on responses from nearly 3,000 teachers from 48 states, the task force found that 80 percent of teachers reported at least one victimization experience--such as disrespectful behavior, bullying or intimidation, verbal threats or gestures, theft, property damage, and physical assault--in the current or previous year.

Of those who experienced victimization, 72.5 percent reported harassment; over 50 percent experienced property offenses; and 44 percent reported physical attacks. Students were most often identified as the perpetrators, though nearly half of victimized teachers listed two or more types of offenders (e.g., students, parents).

Conversations around attracting and retaining talented educators often focus on benefits--including increased autonomy, higher compensation, and recognition and reward programs--that organizations can offer. Yet, in schools where teachers feel frightened, unsafe, or even traumatized, such perks may not mean much.

Talent Managers--how does your organization deal with workplace violence? Do employees feel safe, secure, and valued? Do new and veteran employees receive training or guidance around how to identify and mitigate situations that could escalate into violence? And, do they know how to seek help--both immediately and in the aftermath--if they experience violence or victimization?

Though violence, thankfully, is not a regular occurrence in many schools, Talent Managers can play a critical role in putting preventative measures in place, to help make them even better places to teach and learn.

The opinions expressed in K-12 Talent Manager are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.