CEA Advisor: ‘Student Assault and Aggressive Behavior’

I loved my job. But then one day I no longer recognized my classroom. It wasn’t the fun, friendly place it used to be. No one felt safe. No one was learning. The principal shrugged. ‘Get used to it,’ he said. I would never get used to it.
When they begin their careers, teachers imagine creating a secure, welcoming, and stimulating environment where they’ll inspire
generations of young thinkers and learners. Long before their careers
are over, however, many teachers find themselves trapped in
classrooms that are unstructured, unsustainable, and unsafe.
In Connecticut and nationwide, a steady rise in student aggression,
especially among younger children—combined with a lack of
administrative support in addressing the problem—is pushing new and
veteran teachers to leave the profession and the students they love.
“This is unacceptable,” says CEA President Sheila Cohen. “The path to
earning a teaching certificate is rigorous and challenging.
Connecticut has some of the best, most dedicated teachers anywhere—
professionals who come to the classroom with all the preparation
and enthusiasm they need to make a lasting, positive impact on their
students’ lives. That dream is crushed every time a student is allowed to
threaten, attack, abuse, and return to the classroom. We need to ensure
that for teachers, dealing with student assault does not simply
‘come with the territory.’ Everyone has the basic right to work without
fear of abuse.”
Though the problem of assault by younger children is underestimated,
Roblin Kaplan-Cho says this demographic accounts for most of the calls she receives. “It’s never acceptable, regardless of a child’s age or
disability. Make sure your administrator is aware of the assault
and reminded of his or her obligation under the law to file a copy of the
assault report with the local police. At the top of the incident report you
file, write, “Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-233, I
am notifying you that I have been assaulted.” Involve your local
Association so that they can track the frequency of the problem. Call
the police if you feel you aren’t getting the help you need.

Author: Nancy Sasso Janis

Nancy Sasso Janis currently is a first grade teacher at Andrew Avenue Elementary School. She has been teaching first grade and kindergarten in the district for thirty years.