Study shows violence against teachers increased after pandemic restrictions lifted

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Violent incidents against teachers and other school personnel jumped after schools reopened after the pandemic, according to a new study.


The findings from the American Psychological Association included two surveys: one conducted during the height of the pandemic (August 2020-June 2021) and a second one conducted after many schools lifted COVID restrictions in 2022.

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The study said before the pandemic, 42 percent of teachers surveyed said they experienced physical violence by students. After the pandemic, that number jumped to 56 percent.

Our Washington News Bureau spoke with Dr. Susan D. McMahon, Chair of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Violence Against Educators and School Personnel. The task force conducted the study.

“It’s a pretty significant problem,” said McMahon. “The teachers are getting the biggest brunt especially post-pandemic. They had the biggest increase in violence.”

RELATED: Florida lawmakers respond to survey that shows over half of educators have faced violence at school

The findings show the violence isn’t only coming from students.

It found while only one percent of teachers reported violent encounters with parents before the pandemic, that skyrocketed to 26 percent after schools reopened.

McMahon said around half of the sample indicated they want more training and professional development.

“That included trauma-informed practices, social emotional learning, de-escalation strategies, threat assessment, staff team building,” said McMahon. “We’re not doing a good enough job of training our teachers and other school staff and our leaders and so then they feel unprepared in their school for things that are happening.”

The study also found school psychologists, social workers, counselors, administrators, and other school staff reported violent incidents rebounding or increasing after pandemic restrictions were lifted.

These new findings come after we told you about our company-wide investigation that surveyed more than 8,000 teachers in 34 states. 71 percent told us they have experienced physical violence by a student at least once. More than half said they have experienced it more than once.

RELATED: Teacher survey found more than half have been afraid to go to school because of violence

McMahon points out data collection about this problem is not currently required, and she argues yearly assessments would help address the issue.

Our Washington News Bureau asked McMahon if that data collection should happen at the federal level to ensure uniformity in the questions, or if it should happen at the local level since schools are overseen by local school districts.

“I think federal level policy around that would be helpful because we could have a more standardized approach,” said McMahon. “It doesn’t mean that every school should have the same solutions. What you do in one school may not work well in another school… I’m not suggesting we should have a one-size fits all solution.”

The new study also reveals more teachers are considering leaving the job. It said 49 percent of teachers expressed intentions to resign or change schools during the pandemic, and after the pandemic it jumped to 57 percent.

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