To increase the public’s respect for the teaching profession, Argentina leaders have proposed a law that would make attacking a teacher a greater crime with harsher penalties, versus an attack on any other citizen, according to BBC News.
“We knew we needed to raise the image of teachers in our society. Slowly, but steadily, their image had fallen,” education minister Esteban Bullrich told the BBC. “There were increased cases of disrespect from parents and students and even aggression towards teachers. That’s when the idea of distinguishing teachers in our penal code came up.”
Under the law, if adopted by Argentina’s congress, any attack—verbal or physical—against a teacher would be an aggravated offence with higher penalties than an attack on another citizen. The plan, developed by Bullrich and Argentina President Mauricio Macri, would include a 25 percent longer prison sentence or a 25 percent increased fine, and would apply to students and parents.
According to the BBC, if the law is adopted, it would likely be the first time teachers have a special legal status under laws governing assaults.
In the United States, however, several states have recently made efforts to better protect teachers and staff from physical assault.
Earlier this month, Minnesota lawmakers proposed a bill that would give teachers the authority to remove any student deemed a safety threat. In North Carolina, a bill that has stalled in a House committee after passing the state Senate last year would have made it a felony for students aged 16 or older to assault a teacher. Under a Texas bill proposed last year that has also stalled in committee, teachers would be able to protect themselves from threatening students without fear of lawsuits or job loss.
“If you hit or shout at a teacher, then you are doing so towards the most important member in our society,” Bullrich said. “Without teachers we would not have ministers or presidents, we would not have the world today. Let us grant them that respect and distinguished treatment.”
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.