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***Utah: 'It's alarming'; "growing number of students...[with] violent behavior"

Feb 1, 2019, KSL TV Salt Lake: Violent behavior in elementary students becoming more prevalent https://www.ksl.com/article/46481666/violent-behavior-in-elementary-students-becoming-more-prevalent While the focus of making Utah’s schools safer has been on securing the buildings, violent behavior among children is also posing a threat to both students and teachers alike. Teachers have noted that violence among students has become more prevalent, and classroom rage is another indication of the mental health crisis in the state’s schools. … More than a dozen teachers interviewed said a growing number of students have violent behavior, and teachers take the brunt of it while trying to protect other students. Teacher Mike Henkes recalled one instance where a student climbed up on his back and put him in a choke hold…. When problems persisted with the same student, Henkes retired from teaching at public schools. He now teaches math at a private school. Retired special education teacher Debi Hunt got to the point, like other teachers, where she was wearing protective gear to class: shin guards and arm pads. … Even with padding, she was treated for bite wounds and other injuries. When two doctors diagnosed her with PTSD, she decided it was time to retire…. … Federal law requires schools to provide public education to every student who walks through the doors. That education must be the “least restrictive” possible, meaning there is a push to mainstream students in regular education classes. On the other hand, a relatively new state law prohibits teachers from restraining students unless it appears a student might cause harm to themselves or others. By then, many teachers said, the situation has already escalated out of control…. When that happens, teachers evacuate the students to the hallway or another classroom to keep them safe until the outburst subsides. Burgon-Hill said her daughter’s class was being evacuated weekly. … Growth of violent behavior… Utah has a system for schools to document violent incidents. Last year, 10,000 violent incidents were reported. However, not all schools comply, and the categories don’t define what is going on in schools. … “It’s alarming,” said Shelley Halverson, director of special education for the Salt Lake School District. “We’re doing what we can to get out in front of that as much as we possibly can.” … The cost of resources Educators unanimously agree, though, that schools need more funding for mental health resources. Utah already faces a teacher shortage. Special education teachers and the aides, or para professionals who help with special-needs students, are some of the hardest staff members to hire and keep. … “We see it everywhere,” Halverson said. “So it needs to be a priority for everyone, not just for schools.”…