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Aggression in classrooms on the rise: Alberta Teachers' Association


The Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) is sounding the alarm on increasing aggression in school.

The ATA released the full results of a December survey on Tuesday, where it asked its members about challenges in the classroom.

One of the most significant themes to come from the survey was a rise in aggression.

Early data show half of teachers and three-quarters of school leaders report facing aggression.

About 75 per cent of aggression came from students, while parents accounted for another 11 per cent. The final 14 per cent was from a combined other category, which includes community members and other staff.

The survey also found that aggression isn't just directed at educators — 75 per cent of teachers also reported hearing hateful or demeaning remarks this year among students.

"The safety of all Alberta teachers and students must be prioritized by government. Our schools need to be a place where optimal learning environments are fully funded while ensuring safety, respect and support," said ATA president Jason Schilling.

The most common remarks centred on sexual orientation and race.

The ATA says the rise in aggression stems from the loss of social and emotional skills during the pandemic, declining empathy and the harmful effects of social media.

It's now calling to prioritize staff safety and enhance training and support for teachers.

"Teachers remain skeptical of the current measures in place to reduce aggression," the ATA said. "Many note that modifying classroom instruction to manage aggressive behaviour often leads to the loss of valuable instructional time.

"As Alberta's education system grapples with these pressing challenges, teachers stand united in their commitment to fostering safe, inclusive and supportive learning environments for all students."

The ATA recommends stronger parent accountability and a consistent and fair discipline system to be created and it would also like to see better reporting of aggressive behaviour.

The Calgary Board of Education provided CTV News with the following statement:

"The CBE takes issues of any aggression directed at either students or staff seriously. Reports of staff injury are investigated while reports of violence, discrimination, harassment or bullying towards staff are sent to Human Resources for review, referral and/or investigation," the statement read.

"This school year the number of specialized classes has increased. While aggression is not limited to specialized classes, an additional 15 education assistants were hired centrally to support students with higher levels of dysregulation and other medical needs.

"We are also offering a variety of targeted professional learning opportunities for teachers in specialized classes, educational assistants and behavioural support workers. Additional support is also available for schools by Inclusive Education learning leaders and centrally deployed strategists and behavioural support workers. Moreover, the CBE also has a number of other ways it manages and supports the health and safety of its staff and students.

"Finally, the CBE student progressive discipline policy also provides a mechanism to address issues that may be serious or ongoing in nature."

The Calgary Catholic School District also provided CTV News with a statement:

"The Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) cares deeply about every member of our community -- we are all sacred and must be treated with dignity and respect. Our schools have all established a Catholic Community of Caring based on the values of faith, caring, respect, responsibility, trust and family. We recognize that teachers and school leaders are currently facing many challenges, but we continue to work towards building positive and inclusive communities where we respect each other and our learning spaces and celebrate diversity," the statement read. Top Stories

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