Secondary school teachers increasingly feel unsafe at work

Almost a quarter of teachers in secondary education in the Netherlands feel less safe at school than they did three years ago. Around 10 percent even give their personal safety a failing score, according to a study by education institution DUO among over a thousand teachers, reports.

83 percent of teachers give their personal safety a score of 7 or higher and 14 percent said they feel safer than they did three years ago. But the average score for personal safety decreased from 8.6 to 7.8 over the past three years. Teachers who only work in VMBO most often gave low scores, an average of  7.1. HAVO and VWO teachers feel safest at work, giving their personal safety an average score of 8.0. 

A quarter of teachers are confronted by verbal abuse from pupils. They are sworn at, belittled or threatened. One in ten said that parents also show this behavior. One in fifty teachers face physical violence from pupils, pushing and striking being mentioned most often. Only three of all the respondents were confronted with physical violence from parents. 

23 percent of respondents said they have to deal with undesirable behavior from colleagues or supervisors. This mostly involves bad manners, followed by verbal intimidation and violence.

39 percent of secondary school teachers said they've noticed pupils being stoned in class, and 29 percent noticed pupils dealing drugs at and around school. 47 percent dealt with pupils committing theft and 49 percent with pupils with fireworks in their possession. 

The teachers who scored their personal safety 6 or lower more often indicated that they deal with these types of incidents at school. These teachers said that the school management does not take sufficient action in case of incidents and often speak of a culture of fear. 

The teachers who scored their personal safety 7 or higher attributed this to the support of colleagues and school management. The also indicated that there are fewer incidents because their is sufficient control, clear agreements, and clear rules at school.