P.E.I. teachers' union tracking violent school incidents

The P.E.I. Teachers' Federation is asking its members to tell them when they experience violence or harassment at work.

Public Schools Branch receives 5-10 reports a week

'Our classes aren't staffed according to the need,' says P.E.I. Teachers' Federation president Bethany MacLeod. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The P.E.I. Teachers' Federation is asking its members to tell them when they experience violence or harassment at work.

The union launched its own violent incident reporting system in December. Teachers are encouraged to fill out an online survey.

Teachers have been bitten, shoved, spit on, threatened.— Bethany MacLeod

Union president Bethany MacLeod said violence and harassment in schools is something teachers across the country are talking about and her union wants a better handle on what's happening on P.E.I.

MacLeod said what they've heard is anecdotal — so the federation doesn't know what's happening in terms of numbers of incidents — but so far more than half of teachers have reported they feel there is an increase in school violence.

"Some reports we've had there've been objects that have been thrown. Teachers have been bitten, shoved, spit on, threatened, and one of the big ones too is verbal abuse," she said.

Teachers are also reported incidents they have witnessed between students.

Staffing models need review, says union

The reports are confidential, MacLeod said, but the union will use them in its discussions with the school board.

"We need to look at staffing the model, our classes aren't staffed according to the needs. Class composition need to be addressed. It's not just about numbers, it's about supports we need in our schools," she said.

"You have so many diverse needs in the classroom and only one teacher that is trying to cope with this."

The Public Schools Branch says it encourages staff to report any incidents. It says it receives five to 10 incident reports a week.

The Public Schools Branch says all incidents are followed up, although there may be exceptions with one-off, less serious incidents.

With files from Island Morning