Chronic underfunding of public education responsible for rise in violence
An alarming number (77 per cent) of members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) say they have personally experienced violence or witnessed violence against another staff member, according to a survey conducted for the Federation in February and March 2023.
“Learning is being disrupted and violence is being normalized in schools because the Ford government refuses to adequately invest in public education. The system is suffering from chronic underfunding, under-resourcing, and understaffing, creating environments where student needs are going unmet,” says ETFO President Karen Brown. “The province must provide adequate funding so learning and working environments are physically and psychologically safe for students, teachers, and education workers.”
As the Ford government continues to make cuts to public education funding, survey results reveal:
• Educators working with younger students are more likely to experience violence.
• Eighty-six per cent of ETFO members who work in special education have personally experienced violence or witnessed it against another staff person.
• Four out of five members state there are more incidents of violence in schools now than when they started working in the Ontario public elementary school system.
• Two-thirds of members say the severity of violent incidents has increased and 72 per cent say the number of incidents has increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
• More than 80 per cent agree that violence in schools is making working with students more difficult and that it interferes with classroom management.
• Front-line supports are often not available to educators and students. A majority report that educational assistants (61 per cent), social workers (56 per cent), and child and youth workers (53 per cent) were available only some of the time, rarely or never when needed this school year.
• Administrators know that violence is a problem, but do not always act on reports of violence.
• Forty-two per cent of members have suffered a physical injury, illness or psychological injury/illness as a result of workplace violence against them this school year.
• Approximately 30 per cent of ETFO members’ injuries warranted a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claim although those claims weren’t always submitted.
The research report, produced by Strategic Communications Inc., will be available at etfo.ca.