School principals abused at record levels, report finds

Being a school principal in the time of COVID-19 might be tricky, but a recent report shows it's hard enough running a school during a normal school year, with abuse becoming the new normal.

The latest annual report into principals' health, safety and wellbeing, released earlier this year, found that 51 per cent of principals were threatened with violence and 42.2 per cent were attacked by students and sometimes even parents in 2019.

That's more levels of abuse than any other year on record.

However, experts expect to see decreased rates of abuse during the coronavirus crisis, with communities showing a new-found appreciation for their children's educators.

Teachers, especially principals, were put under a lot of pressure last year.
Teachers, especially principals, were put under a lot of pressure last year.

 

The survey has run nationally every year since 2011 in response to growing concern about principals' occupational health, safety and wellbeing.

Since the project began, about half of Australia's 10,000 principals have taken part. The latest survey asked questions of 2385 school leaders and the results were overwhelmingly negative.

 

The largest number of threats of violence were in government primary schools, with female staff the most likely to be targeted.

One in three principals also reported heavy stress levels and most encountered gossip and slander from parents.

Aussie students learning and practising social distancing for the return to school. Picture: Attila Csaszar/AAP
Aussie students learning and practising social distancing for the return to school. Picture: Attila Csaszar/AAP

 

The report's co-author Professor Phil Riley told 7 News he hoped the switch to homeschooling had exposed many parents to the valuable work school staff did.

"I think there's a new-found respect for teachers," Professor Riley said.

"Parents have realised the kind of work that goes into educating their children.

"Now is the moment to say 'no more'; we need to admit as a country that we have a problem."

His comments come as states across the country are gearing up for kids to return to school.

Originally published as School principals abused at record levels


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