Updated: Feb 26
Violence against teachers is mundane. It is no longer shocking. Teachers defending themselves against violent attacks in the classroom is commonplace. Unfortunately, students of all ages are threatening and fighting their teachers and school administrators. Consider this January 7 headline from a local Arkansas newspaper: LR Middle School Student Arrested after Asst. Principal Beaten.
The 66 year-old female assistant principal responded to an altercation in the hallway involving 13 and 14 year-old girls. The 13 year-old turned on the administrator and beat her in the face for about 20 seconds, according to a teacher who witnessed the situation.
The teacher watched the assistant principal get punched in the face for 20 seconds? Of course, the senior administrator was briefly hospitalized for injuries sustained during this attack.
Some teachers elect to fight back to the detriment of their jobs. In 2014, a viral video of a Baltimore teacher fighting a female student shocked the nation. The headline read: “School fight between teacher, student caught on camera.” Commentators quickly blamed the teacher for unprofessional, inappropriate behavior.
However, the complete video showed the teacher calling for assistance on her cell phone as the student aggressively initiated the assault. Instead of allowing this student to beat her up, the teacher fought back and was consequently placed on administrative leave and the student was charged with assault.
With interesting, twisted perceptions of the facts, local respondents to this story kept referring to the student as a ‘troubled’ child who deserved better treatment from the teacher. Really? How insane. Once the student raised her hands to attack the teacher, the shroud of childhood innocence dissipated to reveal a criminal who engaged in felonious activity against a teacher within the classroom, during school hours.
Collective chastisement of teachers who dare to defend themselves against school violence renders them powerless against dangerous, unbalanced students. The students are well aware of their dominance, which is why they keep disrespecting the authority of the teacher.
Otherwise, why do students think they can cavalierly curse, threaten or hit teachers? Well, in many cases students are extended undue protections against teachers, mainly because of their age. The prevailing thought is that the adult teachers should know better, basically. But, what increased benefits do teachers receive for rendering themselves victims to student ‘aggression’? More money? A cake? A get well soon card?
The hallowed hallways of the school house are no longer safe or sacred. They are riddled with juvenile delinquents with no respect for authority, human life or decency. Accepting this uncomfortable truth is particularly difficult and distressing for old school educators and parents who recall the glory days of public education when teachers ruled the classroom with firm, compassionate control coupled with intellectual brilliance and passion for their jobs.
Today, the ‘kids’ and administrators whip teachers into obsequious submission to keep their jobs. Not all teachers fall to their knees, however. Just mainly the ones with no other career options, financial backups or a misplaced sense of loyalty.
Though tough and grievous to acknowledge, addressing these harsh realities--in efforts to revamp a substantially broken and compromised educational system--is critical to creating permanent, effective changes.
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Ashan R. Hampton is a long-time English instructor turned entrepreneur. She is also a proud graduate of the Donaghey Scholars Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock under the direction of Dr. C. Earl Ramsey, Emeritus. Through her company, Onyx Online Education & Training, she offers online writing courses and print books for academic and professional development to individuals and corporations. She is also a prolific published author of several books on a variety of topics. To find out more about Ashan's work, visit www.arhampton.com.
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