11 Investigates report on violence against teachers gets attention of US lawmakers

PITTSBURGH — An 11 Investigates report is getting people talking in the nation’s capital.

Our investigation into violence against teachers has now caught the attention of the U.S. Education Secretary and lawmakers. They’re speaking out about the violence teachers tell us they’re experiencing in the classroom.

“It’s unacceptable, and we need to do more,” said Representative Aaron Bean (R-Fl.) the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education.

11 Investigates teamed up with our sister stations across the country, collectively surveying more than 8,000 teachers about their experiences with student violence.

When asked if they’ve been subjected to physical violence by a student, of teachers surveyed in Pennsylvania, 77 percent said yes, compared to 71 percent nationwide. It’s important to note that teachers who personally experienced violence may have been more likely to respond to our survey.

We asked teachers if there are enough resources to address violent behavior in school. Just 37 percent said yes.

“The study is eye-opening and for your listeners and viewers to see the study, it is confirming that teachers truly are in danger and fear for their safety,” said Rep. Bean.

“It’s chilling to see it firsthand to see the high numbers. We’ve really got to empower our school boards to hold people accountable because it doesn’t seem like anybody is being held accountable,” he said.

Many teachers stressed the need for more mental health resources to help struggling students.

“These kids had their lives disrupted through COVID. This was a traumatic event. Many of them didn’t develop social skills over this time period and they’re just learning them in the schools,” said Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fl.)

Sixty-seven percent of Pennsylvania teachers surveyed say they’ve considered quitting or retiring because of violence against teachers.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona addressed the issue when asked by reporters at our Washington, D.C. news bureau.

“Yes, we have to address the violence in our classrooms. We have to address the violence in our communities. We’re not going to address a teacher shortage issue if we don’t address the teacher respect issue. So, we need to be listening to our teachers and making sure that the work environment that they’re in is supportive of them,” said Cardona.

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