Rise in student violence puts teachers at risk of injury

This article looks at the issue of student-on-teacher violence, especially in light of recent high-profile cases.

Teaching is certainly not one of the professions that people typically see as being risky or prone to injury. However, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, a recent increase in student-on-teacher violence in St. Paul, including one incident that left a teacher with a traumatic brain injury, is shining light on the risks many teachers face everyday. Especially for teachers who work with teenagers, the risk of violence is especially high. In response to the increase in violence, teachers, unions, and safety experts say more needs to be done to create a safer work environment at schools.

Teacher suffers brain injury

One of the most egregious examples of a teacher being injured in the course of his duties occurred in December at St. Paul Central High. A 55-year-old teacher who attempted to break up a fight between a number of students was put into a chokehold and slammed against a table and chair. The teacher passed out for up to 20 seconds and had to be hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury. The fight also led to the assistant principal receiving a large bruise on his neck.

According to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, the teacher who suffered the brain injury is still suffering various symptoms from the ordeal, including numbness, loss of hearing, headaches, short-term memory loss, and a droopy eyelid. He is currently pursuing a mediated settlement with the school district to cover damages as a result of the incident. The injured teacher claims that the district was negligent and failed to provide a safe work environment for its teachers.

Student-on-teacher violence

Unfortunately, while the above case was particularly egregious, it was hardly an isolated incident. Student-on-teacher violence has been on the increase in Ramsey County recently, which has led to calls for improved safety and even the threat of a teachers' strike. The number of gross misdemeanor charges that have been laid against students for assaulting or harming school officials, for example, nearly doubled in 2015. Furthermore, there was nearly a 60 percent growth in such cases last year compared to the previous five-year average.

The teachers union has already threatened strike action over the violence and says that teacher safety has become its number-one priority in contract negotiations. The union says that each school should have a dedicated coordinator and additional funding to help tackle teacher and student safety issues.

Workplace injury compensation

The issue of student-on-teacher violence is a reminder of how injuries can happen in just about any profession. In fact, when a workplace injury happens in a job that is often considered "low-risk," such as an office job, the consequences can sometimes be even worse because the injured worker may feel too embarrassed about his or her injury to consider pursuing compensation. Without compensation, however, injuries could get worse and important safety improvements at the workplace may end up going unimplemented. The fact is that every workplace, whether it is a school, office, or construction site, needs to be kept safe for employees. By contacting a workers' compensation attorney today, injured workers will have somebody who will fight for them and who will also help to ensure their rights are protected.