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Lawmakers call for changes to address teacher injuries

Call 6 found educators injured on the job
Posted: 4:19 PM, Nov 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-20 20:27:55-05
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INDIANAPOLIS — State lawmakers are responding to a Call 6 Investigation that found dangerous conditions for teachers inside Indiana classrooms, and some are calling for changes to better protect educators.

A Call 6 Investigation uncovered hundreds of teachers injured on the job by their own students.

More than 320 teachers responded to a Call 6 Investigates teacher survey and said the biggest problem facing teachers is student behavior (28 percent), followed by pressure surrounding standardized tests (23 percent) and compensation (14 percent).

Of the teachers who responded to our survey, 93 percent said the schools and legislature should do more to address teacher safety.

Kara Teacher Survey Results (Text)

Teachers told Call 6 Investigates disturbing accounts including one teacher who suffered three concussions due to being hit punched and kicked, another who said a student grabbed her breast and sexually assaulted her.

Other examples:

  • “A student grabbed my bra strap from behind and tore my earrings out.”
  • “Was attempting to break up a boy fight and was unintentionally thrown by one of the boys.”
  • “The same student broke my toes and stabbed me with a pencil.”
  • “Tripped intentionally by a student; dislocated thumb by trying to help an upset child.”
  • “Stabbed in leg with pair of scissors. Door shut on my hand.”

Another teacher who filled out the survey said a student urinated on her.

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Call 6 Investigates took those concerns to lawmakers at the Indiana statehouse this week.

Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Centerville, chairman of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, said he was unaware of the problem surrounding teacher injuries.

“This is the first anybody has ever said anything to me about it,” Raatz said. “So, I haven’t had a conversation about it to this point.”

Raatz said to address teacher injuries, Indiana needs to improve the health of families.

“Many things that traditionally happened in the family are now part of what is required in the K-12 space and that puts a lot of pressure on teachers,” Raatz said. “It’s no secret that children who are brought up in a two parent traditional family do better.”

Raatz said the legislature needs to continue to address mental health in schools.

RELATED | Effort to fund mental health services in Indiana schools

Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, also a member of the senate education committee said the legislature needs to talk about teacher safety.

“When we look at trauma that students are dealing with at home, poverty, all these problems need to be addressed holistically," Melton said.

Indiana has the eighth worst school counselor-student ratio in the country with one counselor for every 533 students.

“Many of the districts can't fund these positions, and we have to do what we can at the statehouse to provide that support," Melton said.

Teachers say large class sizes are a factor contributing to student outbursts and teacher injuries.

"Class sizes, that is something we can have more discussion on, but that's a budget issue, but it also tends to be a school decision in terms of how you want to utilize the resources," Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, said. “I think we need to focus on social and emotional learning and making mental health services available for students."

Of the teachers who responded to our survey, 70% of Indiana teachers say they've witnessed a student physically assault a teacher, and 53% say they have personally been injured on the job.

The Indiana State Teachers Association is working on legislation that will address teacher safety.

If you’re a teacher and you’ve been injured on the job, please contact kara.kenney@wrtv.com .