Teacher warns online porn, lockdowns driving rising student assaults against faculty

A teacher in the United Kingdom attributes widespread pornography and the lingering effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on a rising incidence of student assaults against teachers.

Wendy Exton, a teacher in an alternative school, made the claim during a speech at a conference for the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), the country’s trade union for teachers, according to the Times of London.

“The threats of sexual assault are becoming increasingly common due to the abuse of online porn, COVID lockdown and their inability to understand acceptable and appropriate behavior,” Exton said.

Exton went on to say that she recently read in the local paper about how two of her former pupils were jailed for domestic violence, noting that those same individuals were abusive to their teachers when she taught them.

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NASUWT leaders and teachers picket outside St. Andrew's RC Secondary School in Glasgow, Scotland, as they take strike action in a dispute over pay.

NASUWT leaders and teachers picket outside St. Andrew’s RC Secondary School in Glasgow, Scotland, as they take strike action in a dispute over pay. (Andrew Milligan / PA Images via Getty Images / File)

“How are we preparing them to move into healthy, respectful relationships if we allow them to treat teachers or figures in authority in this way? It is not part and parcel of the job, and we need to do everything to eradicate this,” she said.

“The threats of sexual assault are becoming increasingly common due to the abuse of online porn, COVID lockdown and their inability to understand acceptable and appropriate behavior.”

A recent survey of 8,466 teachers conducted in March by NASUWT indicated that 13% of them have experienced physical assault from a student within the past year, according to the Times.

Forty-eight percent expressed dissatisfaction with their school’s behavior policy and considered it ineffective. Twenty-eight percent claimed they had been subjected to verbal abuse by a parent or caregiver during the same time period, according to the poll.

“As we know, once you allow violent incidents to go unpunished, they spread like wildfire through the school, and it becomes a bravado,” Exton warned during her speech to the conference.

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A recent survey by NASUWT indicated that 13% of teachers polled claimed to have been subjected to physical assault by a student.

A recent survey by NASUWT indicated that 13% of teachers polled claimed to have been subjected to physical assault by a student. (Peter Kneffel / picture alliance / File)

Respondents to the poll also told graphic stories regarding some of the abuse they claim to have experienced, including being bitten and kicked by pupils, threatened with rape and murder, and having photos taken up their skirts.

No teacher should have to go to work expecting to suffer from physical or verbal abuse by pupils. Employers have a statutory duty to carry out effective risk assessments; they cannot simply choose to ignore or underestimate the dangers of violent pupils,” said Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, according to the Times.

“Where employers do fail to protect our members from aggression and violence, we will take them on and act to support and protect our members by any means necessary.”

Dr. Patrick Roach, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), speaks to the media outside the Department for Education in London.

Dr. Patrick Roach, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), speaks to the media outside the Department for Education in London. (James Manning / PA Images via Getty Images / File)

A spokesperson for the U.K.’s Department of Education told the outlet, “No teacher should feel unsafe or face violence in the workplace, and we are taking action to improve pupils’ behavior to ensure every school has a safe and respectable environment.”

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“Our ongoing £10 million Behavior Hubs program aims to support up to 700 schools between 2021 and 2024 in improving their behavior by partnering them with selected exemplary lead schools and multi-academy trusts,” the spokesperson added.

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