Classroom violence

Rafael Puyol. Vicepresident. IE Foundation

2 February 2010

Rates of violence among minors have increased steeply in recent years due to a lack of discipline in the home, resulting in indiscipline in the classroom. The solution, therefore, lies with the family.

The American film industry has often focused on violence against teachers, with sombre descriptions of those multiracial schools in depressed suburbs where the teacher is systematically attacked by unmotivated gang members that turn classrooms into their stage for protest and abandonment.

We can believe that this only happens in other places, and that it would never be like that here. However, it is true that the phenomenon is now emerging in Spain, giving rise for concern. According to figures given by my friend Javier Urra, fifteen of every one hundred secondary school teachers have been physically attacked at some time and 73% have been verbally insulted; and there are many who say that they are afraid to go into the classroom. Consequently, 80% of them call for measures that give them greater and better authority as teachers. It is true that until now teachers had no means of fighting against students that don´t let them teach and do not let their classmates study and learn as they should. The result is the permanent stress that affects many teachers and their desire to get out of the system at the earliest opportunity.

Proposals such as those put forward by the Madrid regional authorities to turn teachers into a "public authority" should be given a warm welcome. However, such a desirable measure will not be the answer to everything. It is particularly disturbing that more than 60% of teachers consider that their students´ lack of discipline in class is directly related to over-permissive family lives. Bringing up children requires time and dedication and working parents do not always have these. But that does not justify them acting like their children´s defence lawyers. They should act more often like prosecutors when their children´s behaviour is clearly beyond reason. The law will be a good idea, but it will not be much use without a greater involvement of parents in the education process.

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