Help for the victims

Teachers who have been verbally or physically assaulted may need to talk about the experience afterwards if they are to avoid long-term trauma. They may need to discuss the attack repeatedly to someone ready to listen.

Some teachers may need specialist help. Local authorities should be able to provide this or give advice. Other sources of help include GPs or victim support schemes run by the police.

Victims need to be assured an attack is being taken seriously by their colleagues and employers. Diana Lamplugh and Barbara Pagan, authors of Personal Safety for Schools, advise: * Avoid any criticism of the victim's actions.

* Avoiding a recurrence of the incident is more important than discussing what action should have been taken.

* Listen, support and encourage the victim to talk.

* Discussing the incident helps the victim to accept what happened * Be prepared to ask for further specialist help Headteachers must keep records of and report accidents, injuries and dangerous incidents, including any "act of non-consensual physical violence done to a person at work" under regulations that came into force last April.

When a death, serious injury requiring hospital treatment or a dangerous incident arises at school, the head, as the person responsible for the premises, must telephone the local Health and Safety Executive (HSE) office to report it straight away.

Any other accident or violence involving staff that results in three or more consecutive days off work must be reported within 10 days on the form provided by the HSE.

* The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (HMSO, Pounds 5.60) explains what counts as a serious injury or dangerous incident. The HSE runs a helpline. Tel: 0541 545500

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