New leaflet aims to tackle abuse against teachers

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Education Minister John O’Dowd has joined teacher unions and representatives from teachers’ employers to launch a new leaflet on tackling violence and abusive behaviour against teachers.

A policy statement was circulated to schools last year and is now to be issued in the form of a leaflet to all teachers in grant-aided schools. The leaflet reinforces the message to teachers that any form of violence or abuse, whether physical or verbal is totally unacceptable and explains how to report incidents and access support.

Speaking at the launch in Belfast, the Minister said: “I am aware of the health and well- being issues faced by teachers in our schools today and the importance of addressing them. I know that some have been threatened with physical violence or have experienced verbal abuse during the course of their careers.

“Assaults on teachers – or any other staff employed in schools for that matter - are totally unacceptable and I condemn all such attacks. All school staff and pupils should feel secure and protected in the school environment, and teachers must be allowed to carry out their duties without fear for their personal safety.”

The Minister continued: “All the key stakeholders in education must work together and stand together against any abuse or violence directed at the workforce. This leaflet and the guidance it supports are a good example of effective and fruitful co-operation between the teacher unions and employers. It is important that teachers know what they should do and where they can get support, if they are subjected to violence or abuse.”

The Minister continued: “If we are to tackle this issue effectively, it is vitally important that employers keep a full and accurate record of incidents of abuse, be it physical, verbal, written or electronic. I would therefore encourage any teachers who experience abuse, in any form, to report it immediately to their school principal, in the first instance.”

In conclusion the Minister said: “My Department will continue to work with the employing authorities and teacher unions to explore ways of preventing violence and abuse against teachers and supporting teachers who are subject to it.”