Cross Country Checkup

Are teachers facing too much violence in schools?

A growing number of teachers in Canada say they have experienced violence in the classroom. How can we curb the problem?
Ottawa teacher Tony Lamonica holds up one of his x-rays that show his hip bone healing after an attack by a student. A new survey of teachers shows an alarming rate of physical attacks and harassment against teachers. (Ashley Burke/CBC News )

Sunday on Cross Country Checkup: violence in schools 

This week, an Ottawa teacher spoke out after being viciously attacked by a student in his school. He joins a growing number of teachers across the country who say they have experienced physical violence or harassment in the classroom.

Hair pulling. Chair throwing. Scissors flying. Choking. Biting. Spitting. Bloody noses. Concussions.

It may sound like a particularly animated evening of prime-time professional wrestling.

But no, those are incidents and injuries reported by teachers. Not only student-on-student attacks, but teachers suffering violence at the hands of their students.

What do you think? Is teaching becoming a dangerous profession? Hard data is scarce, but one survey of Ontario Catholic school teachers this year found 60 per cent of teachers have experienced some type of violence.

Some school boards dispute suggestions violence is on the rise, others have begun to issue protective gear to teachers, jackets with light Kevlar inserts that also include leg and arm guards, even face shields. Is that the solution?

What more can be done to keep teachers and students safe? Should all teachers receive training on how to deescalate violence? Are students with special needs and behavioural issues getting enough support… or do schools need to hire more educational assistants, child and social workers, psychologists?


Liette Doucet
President of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union

Liz Stuart
President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association.

Robert Smol
Teacher in the Greater Toronto Area

Shelley Hymel
Professor in Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia