Students and parents aggressive towards teachers

Almost 57% of teachers have encountered aggression from students and over a quarter from parents and carers, causing them to suffer stress, anxiety or depression.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) surveyed over 1,500 members teaching in state schools last term and described the level of poor behaviour as “shocking”, the BBC reports. ATL’s Dr Mary Bousted called for firm and consistent discipline policies in schools but said that “many students have chaotic home lives that would cause most adults to lose their temper occasionally.”

84% of teachers who experienced aggression said that they had faced verbal insults, 70% threats and 45% physical violence, usually pushing or shoving but also being kicked or punched. Over half said that behaviour had become worse over the last two years.

Sadly, only 37% of teachers in the survey said they felt totally happy about the way their school dealt with aggression.

40% of teachers believe that the behaviour of parents and carers has worsened. “You need to be a ‘tough cookie’ to deal with abusive parents. I found it a challenge to ask a father to leave because he was swearing at staff in front of nursery children, but the other parents stayed on to make sure I was OK and looked out for me,” a primary teacher said.

As a result of this behaviour 60% of teachers have lost confidence in their work and 40% have considered leaving the profession.

Have you experienced aggressive behaviour from pupils or parents and if so how has it affected you?

8 thoughts on “Students and parents aggressive towards teachers

  1. The first thing I learnt when came down from university to the classroom was that teaching isn’t only about imparting knowledge but about human interaction with and between children!
    Both spheres are where learning takes place . For schools and for society , authority is based on both consensus and conflict resolution. What mode should I as the teacher adopt ?

    I soon discovered that an easy going friendly attitude was quickly taken advantaged of and chaos and disorder prevailed in my classroom. I was disappointed. The four years I had spent in University studying Education hadn’t prepared me for understanding how to control a class !!

    Fortunately, and ironically for me , I grew up in a tough environment on the East Side of New York and readily understood about street gang psychology having experienced it in my adolescence.

    It was a past life I was endeavoring to escape from which was why I was living and now teaching in England .But I had no choice if I were to survive in the classroom but to ‘get tough ‘ !

    Classrooms have their own mini hierarchies ,so I started from the ‘top’ and worked my way down. Eventually, I had the class under control and then , and only then , was I able to teach my subject !
    As the year progressed the ethos , the atmosphere in my class changed to consensus because I had won respect because I was strict when it came down to who was in charge…me or them ?

    Children need to feel secure before they can love and feel love , or rather security IS love !
    For adolescents , faced with an insecure and volatile world ahead and all around them , learning how to cope and understand it is necessary and vital .

    The teacher, like the parent must teach /show them the way. Being a nice guy push-over is useless !

    Like they say in America , ” Nice Guys Finish Last ” ! It’s a damn shame but just watch the news . That’s the way it is.

    Control the class,then teach them alternatives to force and threat ! I’ve spent thirty three years trying to do that ! Maybe it was just a whispering in an Hurricane but I could have wasted my time in much worse ways !

  2. Most schools about the world became something like a state – a weapon of violance and oppression. Teachers have to obey curriculums and points of the state (to earn money for surviving, so most of them all their life have to be the creatures born to squeeze all the professional way) + the school environment similar the prison’s one (if a student can’t answer the surrounding classmates agression, he or she became a pray for long time of “school training”). It is not a secret that the world day by day is coming to HELL!

  3. I’m 54 and whilst ‘discipline in the classroom’ is a sensitive issue, I was at school in the era of “a quick tap on the thighs for rudeness/non-compliance never did any harm”! I neither support nor condone this approach but, since working within the Special Educational Needs sector (MLD) for the past 8 years, my observation is that there are two generations, since my school days,who have not had such discipline. Staff have been hit, spat on, had chairs and other objects thrown at them. There is nothing that we haven’t been called and it becomes apparent that this stems from ‘how things are done at home in order to achieve a ‘want’. We have a minority of challenging pupils who can go into crisis and require a ‘trained response’ for their and our own safety. Thankfully this is rare but there are occasions, when we inform the parents (legally required) that they too become offensive and aggressive that such intervention has been required. Two generations have sadly missed out and the outcome is now reflected in our classrooms today. (And this hasn’t been intended to be a moan about my job)

  4. I had an opportunity to teach in state schools in England when i was a Doctorate student at Leeds University between 2000 and 2003 and i wrote a book about my experiences of the nasty situation that pertained in schools compared to schools in Africa. Some of my chapters touching on subject of lack of respect for teachers, voilence etc include THOSE WHO CAN, CAN’T TEACH, COMMANDER OF THE ROYAL GUARD, A CLASS FROM HELL, EXPENSIVE TASTES, LOW ACADEMIC AMBITIONS, BATTERED BUT SILENT, SKIVING AND FALSE ALARMS. if you want to read the whole story order your book online from Africa Books Collection (ABC) or Amazon. THE TITLE OF THE BOOK IS ‘CONTRASTING IRONIES: ENGLISH AND UGANDAN STATE SECONDARY SCHOOLS BY FRED SHELDON MWESIGWA. Surely something must be done to curb indiscipline in English state secondary schools to ensure posterity for the nation’s children.
    RT. REV. DR. FRED SHELDON MWESIGWA (P hd) University of Leeds

  5. I think that the fact that behaviour has worsened over the past 2 years can be directly attributed to this government’s policies of making the ordinary person pay for the mistakes their banker cronies made.
    I do applaud the first commenter
    EL Aliferis, on this topic and I agree with him that children need security in the classroom. However what about those of us who didn’t have his experience of gang culture? I found teaching in a state comprehensive very tough and had to move to the private sector. I really think that teachers should have training to deal with tough classes but I guess that would not be PC. It’s such a waste because the state sector is missing out on or losing teachers who have great subject knowledge and the ability to get that knowledge across if only they knew how to establish discipline in a tough class. Perhaps that commentator would like to publish his experiences. It would be such a help to training and new teachers

  6. Hi there everyone!
    It may be that education system is seen as a system where not just anyone wants to enter. :) I am an English teacher from Romania, however as of I have had my son, who is almost 8 now, I have given up teaching in the education system and rather preferred to give private lessons at home. This is not what I wanted to tell you about.
    The thing is that when I used to teach in state schools, I have experienced such violence, not from parents, but from students. I used to teach students who had their own personal problems at home, as well as their own age – related frustrations and issues, however, all aforementioned aside, what I want to tell you is that actually imposing your respect in class is what will bring your success in class.
    As soon as I have made them respect me, by simply showing them by my own conduct that mutual respect is actually working, I was their best friend, namely they showed me respect, they used to speak to me as they did not with their class teacher, as well as they trusted my opinion on a number of issues, even if non school – related.
    I strongly believe that gaining students’ respect is the key to reaching your goal as a teacher.
    At first, even if this is very hard to achieve, you don’t have to take it personally, you do not have to fight back. Just stick to your rules, and let them know that if they breach upon your rules, there is also a downside of this.
    Just let them know you are not there to show them that you are right and they are wrong.
    They should feel free to ask you anything but to know that when you say something and ask them to do something, you really mean it.
    Hope I’ve been helpful to some of you having experienced violence from your students.
    There are quite hard times we the teachers are facing, yet, overcoming these present issues may perhaps be our greatest reward.
    Never give up hoping for a better world. They may curse you now, but they will definitely thank you later :) That’s my motto

  7. Abusive conduct by students and their family members cannot be blamed on the austerity measures of the last few years. Behaviour of school pupils has been going downhill since the 1980s. Guess what was abolished in the 1980s? As for the parents and carers, most grew up in the 1980s and 1990s and are themselves members of a generation which had little discipline at school or home and never learned to respect their neighbors and fellow citizens.
    Kudos to the person who used his/her New York background to adapt to conditions and win respect. It is a struggle but some succeed from time to time. It is a pity, however, that school management are usually so pathetic and unsupportive.

  8. I don’t think corporal punishment is the answer. Strong leadership, appropriate training and support for the teacher is the answer. Along with time out for pupils who do not know how to behave or have behavioural problems. Teenagers hate to lose out on social time and being isolated is very effective where it is employed. The so-called ‘units’ where difficult youngsters are sent do a wonderful job with these teenagers and really should be praised for the work they do. I don’t believe that beating/humiliating people solves the problem and is open to abuse as we all know. I do agree with Marina that gaining the respect of your pupils is very important and this is where training and support is all-important.

    In answer to Rich, the teachers surveyed said that the situation has deteriorated in the last 2 years. So what is your explanation of the deterioration over this time?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>