The Malta Independent 23 September 2019, Monday

87% of teachers report experiencing aggression; 23% say it happens daily

Thursday, 10 January 2019, 12:11 Last update: about 10 months ago

87 per cent of teachers have said that they experienced aggression in schools where they worked, with 23 per cent going as far as to say they experienced aggression daily, a survey carried out by the Malta Union of Teachers shows.

75 per cent of respondents mentioned students when asked who the perpetrators were, with 29 per cent mentioning parents, 12 per cent colleagues and nine per cent mentioned superiors. Only 60 per cent reported aggression.

Respondents were also asked to describe their experience, and situations experienced ranged from aggression on school premises, outside school and through online communication. Experiences can be categorised as verbal or physical aggression and include threats, foul language, biting, scratching, hitting and throwing objects.

During a press conference, MUT President Marco Bonnici stated that "the information received is of great concern and should be a wake-up call to educational authorities and employers. One common factor shared by most respondents is helplessness, while the general feeling seems to be that educators in our schools do not feel supported, with many even claiming that some schools try to minimise and hide their concerns and incidents. Another recurring situation of aggression involves students with tantrums, which might shed light not only on situations that involve educators but also on parenting in general. In fact, verbal abuse from parents is also rampant, and sometimes students behave in a similar way to their parents with learnt behaviour from the home environment."

In view of this, the MUT is sending a clear message to educational authorities that it will not tolerate that educators continue to endure aggressive behaviour. No justification whatsoever shall be acceptable in all aggressive situations and the Union shall be issuing directives to members who suffer such situations to protect the educator and other students in class. The Union is also launching two new services for members who experience such situations. The first is an SMS emergency line to report aggressive behaviour and receive the appropriate assistance. The second is the provision of a psycho-social service from qualified personnel. Details about these will be communicated directly to the members of the Union.

The MUT concluded with reiterating its appeal for proper security measures in schools to protect educators at their workplace, including the continued presence of a security officer in schools and the strengthening of Police presence at the beginning and end of the school day when students are going in and out of the school. This will not solve all present issues, but it would be a good start. Meanwhile the results of the study conducted by the Ministry on security measures in schools are still being ignored.

 

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