25 Investigates

‘Means our students don’t feel safe’: Senator reacts to 25 Investigates’ Teacher Safety Survey

BOSTON — There is strong reaction from Capitol Hill on Monday to 25 Investigates’ nationwide teacher safety survey.

As we first revealed in May, 71% of the teachers who participated in our survey say they’ve been subjected to violence by a student.

Anchor and Investigative Reporter Kerry Kavanaugh recently caught up with New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan who says our survey shines a light on the need for more resources in our schools.

“I’m grateful to all of the teachers who participated. I’m grateful to all of you for doing the work, to do this survey. It really highlights that most of our teachers don’t feel safe in school, and that’s unacceptable,” Hassan told Kavanaugh.

Hassan sits on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

“It takes resources to support professionals who can train, educators, who can work with families, who can let kids know that there’s a way forward and that they can get better and that they can succeed,” she said.

60% of teachers who responded, locally and nationally, say they at least sometimes feel afraid to be at school.

71% of those who responded told us they’ve experienced violence at the hands of students. A third said it happened more than once.

93% said they’ve endured verbal abuse by students.

61% of teachers who responded said they’ve considered leaving the profession.

“Some of this comes about, because of mental health challenges. Some of it comes about because families are less engaged in the schools, and we have less or fewer accountability measures. We need to listen to teachers, listen to students,” Hassan said.

For our exclusive survey, we teamed up with our sister stations to ask teachers about their experiences with student violence, their thoughts on the root causes, and possible solutions.

We heard from more than 8,296 teachers in 34 states. 1,061 in Massachusetts alone, including Cliff Canavan who says he tried to break up a fight involving Brockton high school girls in 2022.

“And as I’m holding her arms and another girl, came running up behind me and full-on body, checked me, sent both of us into a metal rack,” Canavan said.

He suffered muscle tears, cuts, and two broken bones in his wrist.

“If some of us aren’t willing to speak up about what’s actually going on in the school, nothing’s going to change,” Canavan said.

“If our teachers don’t feel safe, it also means our students don’t feel safe, right? So, we have to do better,” Hassan said.

Hassan says we can address this issue in part through the Care for Student Mental Health Act, which she is co-sponsoring with bipartisan partners. It would provide long-term funding to create partnerships between universities and public schools to train and place mental health professionals. There is one of these partnerships up and running between the University of New Hampshire and Manchester Public Schools.

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