Abuse of staff is rife, says study

4th April 2003 at 01:00
A TEACHER who was viciously teased by pupils about her size has told how the insults drove her to depression and drastic weight loss.

The unnamed secondary teacher needed time off after suffering repeated insults from pupils, including being called a "fat-bellied pig" in front of a Year 8 class.

"Pupils constantly made offensive comments about my size," she said.

"Stress and depression has led me to lose three-and-a-half stone."

She was one of 287 teachers in the east of England who said they were insulted or attacked by pupils and parents in a single month last term.

Their stories appear in a report by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers which says a teacher in the region is abused every seven minutes. It follows a similar survey by the NASUWT in the North-west last week.

Teachers in the Eastern area reported 212 incidents of verbal abuse, 11 racist insults, and 75 physical assaults.

Nearly all the teachers said they had reported the incidents to their senior management, and 47 per cent said they were disappointed with the action taken.

Eamonn O'Kane, NASUWT general secretary, said the union's studies showed that violence and disruption were common in classrooms across England.

"This is not idle scaremongering," he said. "This is clearly a national problem and we are worried about the effect this behaviour is having on teachers' self-esteem."

The 10 eastern education authorities surveyed were Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Luton, Norfolk, Peterborough, Southend, Suffolk, and Thurrock.

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