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.”

Yvette d’Entremont is a bilingual (English/French) journalist and editor who enjoys covering health, science, research, and education.

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  1. Schools are dictatorships. The staff have a position of authority and use it to force the curriculum onto the children. The curriculum was created in an ivory tower without consent or consultation with the students, contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Basically our schools have turned into reeducation camps in the way they operate. The violence is merely a consequence of the chasm between life outside of school and life at home. We need to drastically rethink education if we want to save public education. Progressive education that is more respectful of the learner has been developed over a century ago by pedagogical experts, yet the department of education insists that the Prussian model they suffered through as a child is the only way education should work. The Prussian model was created for efficiency, not learning.

  2. “The NSTU said 2,534 members completed its online survey. . .”

    It is hard to determine if this is a good sized sampling without knowing how many members were sent an invitation to complete the survey. Do you have that information?

  3. Online surveys are not random therefore pointless.
    Conclusions are pointless or worse.
    Publication of results is pointless.

    1. The first goal of a workplace union is to collect dues. That’s why they always seem to find things to be upset about but never offer any alternative. Here again: “the government needs to make schools safer” How? What changes would be acceptable to the members? What evidence exists that will those will be effective?

    2. We need general labour unions that cut across society and work to improve society as a whole. Their income should depend on popular support, not mandated deductions.