Alarming rise in violence against teachers


Physical attacks on teachers have soared in the past five years resulting in thousands of Queensland students being suspended each year, alarming new figures reveal.

The number of suspensions for attacks on adults with objects increased from 1,486 incidents in 2015 to 1,919 incidents in 2019 - an increase of 29 per cent.

Physical misconduct of adults without objects rose from 2,158 to 3,209 - or nearly 50 per cent - over the same time period.

Queensland Teachers' Union President Kevin Bates violence or more broadly problem behaviours among students were something principals and teachers face every day.



He said one type of incident, which was a community wide issue, was gendered violence among students and targeting female teachers.

"It can be threatening behaviour, sexualised behaviour, physical assaults, it's on a wide spectrum, and in each of those incidents the underpinning thing is that it's violence against a female by a male," he said.

Mr Bates confirmed that some of the assaults principals and teachers faced included bites, and being hit or kicked, while also experiencing online abuse.

"[It] has no place in schools … the community has to stand together and condemn that behaviour and support schools to take necessary steps to address that.

Education Minister Grace Grace said violence was not tolerated in any Queensland school and that no teacher should ever be abused or attacked at work.

"Every Queensland state school student is expected to behave in a positive and respectful way toward staff, teachers and other students," she said.


Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates.
Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates.


The new data from the Department of Education also reveals that there were 82,944 suspensions handed out to state school students in 2019, which was slightly down from 85,662 suspensions the year prior, but up from 69,938 in 2015.

Ms Grace said the drop was the first time the total disciplinary absences fell for the first time in six years.

The most common reason Queensland pupils were suspended in 2019 was for physical misconduct involving other students (not involving objects), at a staggering 22,743 incidents. Across all year levels, Year 8 students racked up the most suspensions or expulsions, with a shocking total of 13,440 incidents recorded in the past year.

According to the Department of Education, a short suspension can last between 1 to 10 days, a long suspension ranges from 11 to 20 days.

Ipswich State High School issued the most suspensions in the state, with a staggering total of 396 short suspensions in 2019.

Bundamba State Secondary College had the second highest tally with 384 short suspensions, followed by Dakabin State High School at 371 incidents.

Ms Grace said the vast majority of students never receive suspensions or expulsions and attributed the fact to the "effective" strategies and boundaries put in place by principals and teachers.

Originally published as Alarming rise in violence against teachers