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    Teach Me if You Can: Why Violence Against Teachers in Germany Is on the Rise

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    Forsa Institute for Social Research has published data showing that the level of mental and physical violence against teachers in secondary schools has greatly increased over last few years. In an interview with Sputnik Germany, the President of the Union of German schoolteachers Josef Kraus commented on the issue.

    How safe are modern schools? A recent study by Forsa showed a disappointing trend: 59% of the teachers surveyed admitted that violence against teachers in German schools has been growing.

    The study showed that more and more teachers have become subjected to physical or mental violence by students.

    "Based on over 40 years of my professional experience I can confirm that some things have changed for the worse, both in quantitative and qualitative terms. It should be noted that in the period from 1999 to 2009, more than 20 teachers of German schools died as result of attacks," Kraus told Sputnik Germany.

    In an interview with Sputnik, one of the teachers also admitted that verbal attacks and threats against teachers have become more frequent than before.

    "I have faced threats from one of the students. Other colleagues have also had a similar experience, in particular because of their homosexual orientation, or ethnicity," the teacher said.

    Domestic Violence, Poor Integration and Mental Factors

    Although the motives of the attacks vary in each case, the aggressive behavior of students has become more systematic, the teacher added.

    "When talking about psychological violence one should understand that the student is always subordinate to the teacher, […] and such violence is a form of self-defense," the teacher added.

    At the same time, Kraus argued that the main responsibility for the cruelty of students lies with the parents and the society in general.

    "Not all families are willing or have the opportunity to educate children so that they are aware of certain limits they shouldn't cross. In some families, there is also domestic violence, and children follow the example of their parents," Kraus argued.
    At the same time, a teacher from Hessen stated that it would be wrong to say that children born in families with a lower social level or a lower level of education are more prone to violence, than other students.

    "We can't make a general conclusion that these are the students from the lower strata of society. It's really not the case. This largely depends on the mental condition of a specific student, which is not necessarily determined by social factors," she said.

    The teacher also noted that schools are currently facing new challenges arising from increased migration, and teachers are not always able to cope with them.

    "Conflicts could be different. There is a clash of different cultures, which, in particular, reflects different understandings of the role of women in society and different degrees of tolerance toward certain sexual orientations," the teacher said.
    Why Teachers Don't Go to Police

    Surprisingly, Forsa‘s study showed that in most cases teachers, faced with verbal or physical attacks on the part of students, refused to go to the police or raise this topic in public.

    "Teachers are afraid of revenge on the part of students, and often do not feel support from their school management or colleagues. They are afraid of being labeled as weaklings among them. These are the main reasons why people prefer to keep silence," Kraus said.

    At the same time, Kraus noted that it is unacceptable to conceal this problem, as it would let young abusers off the leash and urge them further act in the same way.

    "I recommend to all my colleagues, not to be afraid to go to the police if they face violence — be it verbal attacks, damage of personal belongings or even physical violence. I believe that it is important that young offenders are at least questioned by the police in such cases. Often, it could be quite a useful pedagogical shock for them," Kraus concluded.

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