Teachers and educational specialists who participated in a recent Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) survey say violence is increasing in the province’s schools.
In a media release Thursday morning, the union says 87% of those who responded to an online membership survey believe school violence has increased since 2018. In addition, 92% of those who responded indicated they’d witnessed violence at school first hand. More than half (55%) said they were the victim of a violent act or threat at work.
Fewer than 1% of those surveyed believe school violence levels are declining.
“All too often I receive phone calls and emails from teachers who are upset and concerned about a violent event they witnessed or experienced at school,” NSTU President Ryan Lutes said in the release.
“Incidents between students are becoming more frequent, more severe and alarmingly more dangerous. Teachers and school staff members are often kicked, bit, hit, punched, threatened and verbally abused. Unfortunately, these incidents frequently go unaddressed or are characterized as just part of going to school. This is unacceptable.”
Last month, Lutes called for increased staffing and a provincial strategy to address school violence after two school employees were stabbed at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford. He said the incident had sparked “a broader and necessary conversation” about combatting school violence and improving access to mental health supports for students. He asked the province to take “urgent steps” to make Nova Scotia schools safer.
In a March 22 article for CBC, Josh Hoffman reported that Halifax Regional Police have been dispatched to schools 424 times since 2018, resulting in 77 charges.
Provincial government data shows that during the 2021-22 school year, there were 13,776 physical violence incidents in Nova Scotia schools. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development defines physical violence as “using force, gesturing, or inciting others to use force to injure a member of the school community.”
The NSTU said 2,534 members completed its online survey about school violence, which was conducted between March 27 and April 13. The NSTU has about 9,300 members.
“Our schools are microcosms of our society and as society becomes more complex, so do our classrooms and schools,” Lutes said.
“The NSTU will be sharing the information gathered through its teacher survey with the Province and is prepared to work with Government on identifying actions aimed at eliminating school-based violence and improving school safety.”