Trouble at the seminar
Trouble at the seminar

Shocking rise in teacher abuse revealed by alarming stats

VIOLENT attacks and threats against Queensland teachers and school staff have surged to record levels, new data has revealed.

Kids have been accused of punching, biting, threatening and using furniture as weapons as the number of WorkCover claims made to the Department of Education in relation to assaults and violence climbed to 442 from July 1, 2018, to May 31 this year.

The 11-month figures are 76 per cent higher than four years ago, with 45 more claims than in the 2017-18 financial year.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates said abuse ranged from verbal threats to physical attacks including using school furniture as weapons.

"Teachers and staff end up hospitalised needing rehabilitation for injuries, let alone the psychological damage that is inflicted," he said.

"It's not good enough, whether it's at a school, a hospital or a childcare centre.

"People get hurt and it costs communities."

Mr Bates said teachers were more inclined to report violent incidents after years of accepting it as "part of the job" of dealing with unruly students.

Just this week students were charged by police over an alleged attack on a teacher at Townsville's Thuringowa State High School. Footage of the incident appeared to show the teacher using their body to protect another child, as students kicked them.

Education Minister Grace Grace said acts of violence against teachers and staff was "simply unacceptable".

"They come to school each and every day to share their knowledge with students and they should not fear being assaulted, either by students or others," she said.

"I support schools taking the strongest possible action in response to assaults or threats of assaults against teachers or support staff."

Ms Grace said the success of the Government's Respect our Staff, Respect our School program, calling on staff to call out violent or abusive behaviour, partly accounted for the increase in WorkCover claims.

WorkCover claims by Queensland teachers and school staff have surged to record levels.
WorkCover claims by Queensland teachers and school staff have surged to record levels.

But Opposition spokesman on education Jarrod Bleijie accused the Government of taking a "soft approach" to disruptive student behaviour.

"A 73 per cent increase in violence against teachers and a 76 per cent increase against all school staff is appalling and that's one month short of the last financial year, so the numbers would be even worse," Mr Bleijie said.

"We need to be encouraging more people to join or stay in the teaching profession and stats like these don't help the cause."

Mr Bates said recent reports of an increase in suspensions and expulsions showed schools were attempting to manage increasing levels of violence.

"It is, and should be, sounding alarm bells," he said.

"There has been increased awareness that they deserve to be safe, and it's OK to say 'I've been assaulted, which has left me with a physical or psychosocial injury'.

"It's really vital that schools work in partnership with parents in regards to student behaviours.

"And this isn't just about teachers, it's about the rights of everyone including students to be safe, and enjoy their right to an education.

"There's no excuse for someone to take that away."