The MUT launching two new services and will not hesitate to issue directives to protect its members
During the past weeks the Malta Union of Teachers has seen a rise in the number of reports from members experiencing aggressive behaviour in schools. This led the Union to run a survey to understand better the situation and to take the necessary measures. Whilst results do not constitute scientific data, the outcome of the survey, whilst not surprising, is very shocking and portrays the experiences of a considerable number of educators.
When questioned whether they experienced aggression at their respective schools in the past two years, 87% of respondents confirmed that they experienced it. 23% of respondents claimed that they experienced aggressive behaviour on a daily basis whilst another 23% claimed a weekly frequency of aggressive behaviour being experienced. When questioned who the perpetrator in the aggressive situations was, 75% of respondents mentioned students, 29% parents, 12% colleagues whist 9% mentioned superiors. 60% of respondents claimed that they reported the aggression, meaning that the rest did not report. Respondents were also asked to describe their experience, and situations experienced ranged from aggression on school premises, outside school and through online communication. Experiences can be categorised as verbal or physical aggression and include threats, foul language, biting, scratching, hitting and throwing objects.
During a press conference, MUT President Marco Bonnici stated that “the information received is of great concern and should be a wake-up call to educational authorities and employers. One common factor shared by most respondents is helplessness, while the general feeling seems to be that educators in our schools do not feel supported, with many even claiming that some schools try to minimise and hide their concerns and incidents. Another recurring situation of aggression involves students with tantrums, which might shed light not only on situations that involve educators but also on parenting in general. In fact, verbal abuse from parents is also rampant, and sometimes students behave in a similar way to their parents with learnt behaviour from the home environment.”
In view of this, the MUT is sending a clear message to educational authorities that it will not tolerate that educators continue to endure aggressive behaviour. No justification whatsoever shall be acceptable in all aggressive situations and the Union shall be issuing directives to members who suffer such situations to protect the educator and other students in class. The Union is also launching two new services for members who experience such situations. The first is an SMS emergency line to report aggressive behaviour and receive the appropriate assistance. The second is the provision of a psycho-social service from qualified personnel. Details about these will be communicated directly to the members of the Union.
The MUT concluded with reiterating its appeal for proper security measures in schools to protect educators at their workplace, including the continued presence of a security officer in schools and the strengthening of Police presence at the beginning and end of the school day when students are going in and out of the school. This will not solve all present issues, but it would be a good start. Meanwhile the results of the study conducted by the Ministry on security measures in schools are still being ignored.