Some teachers don't talk to anyone about violent incidents

March 07, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio - One in five teachers who were the victims of physical or verbal violence at their schools didn't report the incidents to school administrators, according to a nationwide study.

The results showed that significant minorities of teachers who experienced violence also didn't tell their colleagues (14 percent) or family (24 percent).

Only 12 percent went to a counselor.

"You would think that the first thing a teacher would do after a violent encounter or threat would be to tell the school's administrators, but 20 percent aren't even doing that. That's disturbing," said Eric Anderman, lead author of the study and professor of educational psychology at The Ohio State University.

"Too many teachers aren't talking to anyone about what happened."

The study was published online this week in the journal Social Psychology of Education.

In collaboration with the American Psychological Association, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, Anderman and his colleagues surveyed 3,403 kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers from across the country. This study included the 2,505 teachers in the survey who said they were the victims of some form of violence.

Teachers were asked to describe in writing "the most upsetting incident" at school in which they were the target of students' verbal or physical aggression or intimidation.

One-quarter of the teachers reported actual physical abuse or assault, 20 percent reported threats of physical violence and 37 percent described verbal insults, disrespectful language or inappropriate sexual advances.

Another 8 percent didn't write about the details of the violent incident itself, but about a lack of support from school leaders and colleagues who were told about the abuse.

"That finding was very surprising to us. It was not something any of us thought we would find," Anderman said.

The study examined how teachers reacted to the violence against them, particularly concerning how much they blamed themselves for what happened.

On a scale of 1 to 5, teachers rated how much they blamed themselves for the violent incident through statements like "They do this to me because I won't fight back" and "I should have been more careful."

Teachers also rated the extent to which they experienced three reactions to the incident: feeling upset, becoming angry, and feeling physical symptoms like nausea or a fast heartbeat.

Results showed that the more teachers blamed themselves for the incident, the more likely they were to report feeling anger and having unpleasant physiological responses, which in turn was related to a greater likelihood of talking to others about the incident.

"Experiencing negative emotions like anger can potentially be helpful, if it leads teachers to reach out to colleagues or family. They often need help processing what they went through," Anderman said.

But those feelings of anger triggered by self-blame also were linked to a lower likelihood that teachers contacted the parents of the student perpetrator about the incident. Some research suggests teachers are more likely to talk to parents when they feel effective at work and are more committed to their job.

"It is possible that teachers who experience violence may sometimes become less committed to teaching and feel less effective," he said.

Anderman said he was concerned that only 12 percent of teachers spoke to a counselor about the violent incident they experienced. The study showed that teachers who rated feeling more upset and reported higher levels of physical symptoms were the most likely to see a counselor.

It may be that many teachers avoid seeing a counselor because they don't want to appear weak or ineffective, he said.

Anderman also noted that teachers were more likely to talk to their colleagues about violent incidents than with their administrators. That finding, coupled with the fact that 8 percent of participants wrote about the lack of support they felt, suggests schools need to be more effective at dealing with violence against teachers.

"Some schools may need to re-evaluate how they can support and help teachers who are victims of violence," he said.
-end-
This work was supported by the American Psychological Association's Center for Psychology in Schools and Education.

Anderman conducted the study with Dorothy Eseplage of the University of Florida; Linda Reddy of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Susan McMahon of DePaul University; Andrew Martinez of the Center for Court Innovation; Katherine Lynne Lane of the University of Kansas; Cecil Reynolds of Texas A&M University; and Narmada Paul of Ohio State.

Contact: Eric Anderman, (614) 688-5721; Anderman.1@osu.edu

Written by Jeff Grabmeier, 614-292-8457; Grabmeier.1@osu.edu

Ohio State University

Related Violence Articles from Brightsurf:

Combined intimate partner violence that includes sexual violence is common & more damaging
Women who experience sexual violence combined with other forms of intimate partner violence suffer greater damage to their health and are much more likely to attempt suicide, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Bristol's Centre for Academic Primary Care published in the International Journal of Epidemiology today [12 November 2020].

As farming developed, so did cooperation -- and violence
The growth of agriculture led to unprecedented cooperation in human societies, a team of researchers, has found, but it also led to a spike in violence, an insight that offers lessons for the present.

The front line of environmental violence
Environmental defenders on the front line of natural resource conflict are being killed at an alarming rate, according to a University of Queensland study.

What can trigger violence in postcolonial Africa?
Why do civil wars and coups d'├ętat occur more frequently in some sub-Saharan African countries than others.

Another victim of violence: Trust in those who mean no harm
Exposure to violence does not change the ability to learn who is likely to do harm, but it does damage the ability to place trust in 'good people,' psychologists at Yale and University of Oxford report April 26 in the journal Nature Communications

Victims of gun violence tell their stories: Everyday violence, 'feelings of hopelessness'
Invited to share their personal stories, victims of urban gun violence describe living with violence as a 'common everyday experience' and feeling abandoned by police and other societal institutions, reports a study in the November/December Journal of Trauma Nursing, official publication of the Society of Trauma Nurses.

Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.

Teen dating violence is down, but boys still report more violence than girls
When it comes to teen dating violence, boys are more likely to report being the victim of violence -- being hit, slapped, or pushed--than girls.

Preventing murder by addressing domestic violence
Victims of domestic violence are at a high risk to be murdered -- or a victim of attempted murder -- according to a Cuyahoga County task force of criminal-justice professionals, victim advocates and researchers working to prevent domestic violence and homicides.

'Love displaces violence'
Art historian Eva-Bettina Krems on persistent motifs of peace in art from antiquity to the present day -- dove, rainbow or victory of love: artists draw on recurring motifs.

Read More: Violence News and Violence Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.