A brief but emotive subject to consider. What is your view? As always you need to take a think and look at the bigger picture. Should a teacher involve the police when there is an assault against them? Lets deal with more than one scenario…….
a) A teacher is inadvertently injured whilst trying to keep a pupil safe?
b) A teacher lacks de-escalation skills and their response causes an escalation of a situation.
c) despite the best efforts of a member of staff to de-escalate a situation the already heightened pupil reacts and strikes a teacher.
d) A teacher gets caught in the “cross-fire” of pupils.
Does the context actually matter? Is a staff member getting injured enough? Whose decision is it to involve the police? Schools or staff members? If you were outside in the street, would it be considered to be an assault? What if it is a teachers word against a pupils? What should sway the decision then?It is certainly more complicated than it first appears.
My view has changed with time and experience. Early in my career I was always worried that if struck, my instinct would take over and I would hit back. Fortunately that was not the case. When a pupil tried to hit me, I blocked the blow, unfortunately he did then hit me a crack in the shins with his rather sturdy boots. It always seemed unjust to me that I received a cursery “you ok?” and sent back to my lessons and he was excluded for a couple of days which basically equated to his Christmas holidays starting early. In my head I should have got the time off!
One of my favourite memories of a school I worked at was the evening I was supervising a homework group from the boarding lodge. I was walking down the corridor from the dining hall to my classroom and as I walked past an open door I saw a boy duck and then something hit me on the side of the face. The look on the faces of a) the boy who had thrown the rubber and b) the boy who had ducked was priceless. So much so that I just chuckled and kept walking.
Some teachers lack de-escalation skills. Some of the best examples of these are from colleagues I have seen in an SEN setting. Talking a pupil from an incredibly heightened position back down to a level where they can work with you takes a master of language, body language, tone and patience. You have to put your own ideals and belief to one side at times. A mainstream colleague might see giving a drink and a snack to a ten year old who has screamed and yelled at you, called you a “cunting fuckface” (I was most impressed by the inventive insult) and finally sunk his fangs into your forearm as rewarding bad behaviour. It isn’t, it is about bringing the psychological arousal level back down to a level where the youngster is no longer heightened. If you lack the skills to de-escalate the situation and in fact make it worse, who is responsible for the violence that may ensue? Adult or child? Only in an SEN setting would you hear a teacher saying “yeah, he punched me but it was my fault, I was in the wrong place”. What if a teacher has used every tool in their arsenal to bring a situation under control and still events become out of hand and the teacher is hit, kicked, bitten or spat at? Is this different to the situation just described?
For me, by far the easiest situation to decide on is when an adult is struck in the crossfire between pupils. The adult is the one who waded in. Surely that makes them responsible. Obviously violence in schools is wrong full stop but it is only fair to give a difficult and emotive topic a fair amount of thought and consideration.