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State teachers association makes 'teacher safety' top priority following Call 6 report on injuries

Posted at 4:16 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 18:07:51-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The state’s largest teachers union is taking action following a Call 6 Investigation into teachers injured on the job by students.

The Indiana State Teachers Association listed “teacher safety” as one of its top priorities for the 2020 legislative session.

Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney recently found school staff, mostly teachers, have been hit, kicked, bit, scratched, slapped, punched, and even headbutted by their own students.

Eight of the largest school districts in the state reported 737 staff injuries involving students over the last two school years, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.

PREVIOUS | Hundreds of Indiana teachers injured by students

“The American Psychological Association first reported on the growing phenomenon of violence against teachers in schools in 2013,” read ISTA’s description of the teacher safety priority. “Yet, in the intervening years, little attention has been given to the issue even as teacher anecdotal reports of victimization persist. In reviewing Indiana law, gaps in both reporting and enforcement stand out.”

ISTA president Keith Gambill said Indiana needs to change the law to close the gaps and strengthen enforcement mechanisms.

"So we're looking at not just how do we protect the teacher, but also the student and make sure all the resources are there for them to make sure they're safe at school," said Gambill.

The data shows teachers are typically injured when they break up a fight, or when a student becomes disruptive, upset or aggressive.

Some school districts, like Wayne Township, provided a great deal of information about teacher injuries with RTV6 while other districts had very little data on the problem.

Gambill said that needs to change.

“We want to make sure the process is in place and is known by everyone,” Gambil said. “So, if you are injured, how you should report and what happens when you do report and we make sure that is seamless."

Many teachers we spoke with say there’s not enough training for how to address student outbursts and prevent injuries.

Gambill said it’s not necessarily that districts don’t want to.

“Resources are so tight and this training is so costly, and we have to recognize funding is an issue and it results in the one you have displayed,” Gambill said. “Often times it’s not a matter of administration saying no, you can’t do this or we don’t believe in this, it’s a matter of we simply don’t have the funding to provide that training.”

ISTA will now meet with state lawmakers to hopefully draft legislation on teacher safety.

You can still take our teacher survey here, or email kara.kenney@wrtv.com.

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