U.S. teachers aren’t just underappreciated; more than one-quarter are threatened on the job by their students, according to research by APA’s Task Force on Violence Against Teachers presented during APA’s Annual Convention.

A survey of 4,735 teachers nationwide found that 27 percent said they had been verbally threatened by a student in the past year. In addition, 37 percent had been the target of obscene or sexual remarks from students, and 31 percent said a student had made an obscene gesture to them or groped them. Another 19 percent said they had been intimidated by a student; 13 percent by a student’s parent.

“These numbers did not differ by school setting, by gender of the teacher or by years of teaching,” said Task Force Chair Dorothy L. Espelage, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Some more statistics:

  • 5 percent of teachers had visited a physician as the result of an attack.
  • 15 percent had been physically attacked but did not see a physician.
  • 25 percent had their property damaged by a student.
  • 22 percent said a student had thrown something at them that year.
  • 13 percent reported that parents had thrown things at them.

The task force will release more data from the survey next year, said Espelage. The group is also submitting its findings to several peer-reviewed journals and newsletters that reach teachers, principals and school superintendents.

The next step for the task force is getting APA’s endorsement of a white paper on the topic, Espelage said.

Read more survey results online.

—J. Chamberlin