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(Canada) Elem teachers face violence at school; rise in teacher absenteeism

Dec 7, 2018, Mississauga, ONT, Violence Against Teachers on the Rise in Brampton This fall, news broke that schools across the GTA were experiencing what some have called a supply teacher shortage—something that school boards have said has less to do with a lack of a supply teachers and more to do with a rise in teacher absenteeism. Now, the Elementary Teachers Foundation of Ontario (ETFO) says that teachers are accessing their sick leave (which is typically up to 11 days a school year) because of an increase in violence against educators. … The ETFO says a member survey conducted by the organization in 2017 found that 70 per cent of public elementary teachers have personally experienced violence and witnessed violence. Over a third of the ETFO's 83,000 members have suffered physical injury, illness or mental stress as a result. Since January 2017, the ETFO says it has publicly called on the Ontario government and school boards to take steps to address increased incidents violence in schools, pointing out that educators are working with more students who have complex educational and medical needs. "Additional front line resources are needed to support students with special needs and mental health issues. And school boards need to deal with violent incidents more effectively when it comes to reporting incidents and complying with health and safety legislation and policy," the ETFO says. … The organization says it's working to obtain more detailed data about violence incidents directed against educators, but knows that some educators are taking time off to heal from injuries—some of them serious. … "In short, educators are accessing sick leave because they need it. The increase in violence over the past five to six years is not just confined to education. Sick leave rates have also been on the rise in the health care and hospitals sector." What's behind the uptick in violence? The ETFO suggests that students with special needs don't have the support or resources they require to function harmoniously in an educational environment. The ETFO argues that as the proportion of students with special needs has increased in classrooms, there has not been a corresponding increase in front line supports such as educational assistants, psychologists, behavioural therapists, school support counselors, child and youth workers and speech-language pathologists. The ETFO says school boards need to do more. "Confronted with an increase in violent incidents, school boards need to do more to report and deal with these incidents. …

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