Violent pupils 'putting safety of others at risk'
DISRUPTIVE pupils engaging in dangerous and violent behaviour in second-level schools are putting the safety of others at risk, according to a teachers' union.
Education cutbacks have made it more difficult for schools to deal with discipline issues, said Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) general secretary John MacGabhann.
Mr MacGabhann said they were not talking about minor incidents or anything else that could be labelled "occasional youthful exuberance".
"We are talking about dangerous behaviour that severely restricts teaching and learning and puts the health and safety of other students and of teachers at risk.
"It could take the form of verbal abuse, threatening or intimidating behaviour or even, in some cases, incidents of violence towards other students or teachers," he said.
He said teachers were expressing concern at the effect of cutbacks and an apparent lack of will, or ability, by school management to deal with the issue of indiscipline.
Mr MacGabhann blamed the reduction of teacher numbers, the removal of vital middle-management posts such as year head and cuts to guidance counselling provision.
All those cuts contributed "to making the occurrence of unacceptable behaviour more likely and the capacity for effective early intervention in schools increasingly difficult".
He said that, too often, an effective intervention was not made and the pupil was returned to the classroom where the safety of other pupils and school staff was compromised.
TUI conducted a large-scale survey around the issue of student behaviour in 2006, which found that 21pc of teachers encountered unacceptable physical violence to pupils by other pupils in their class in the previous week.
It also found that 21pc of teachers reported having intimidating behaviour directed at them over the same period.
Mr McGabhann said education cutbacks needed to be reversed to allow every pupil to fulfil their potential, and appropriate strategies, including fair and balanced sanctions that promote the rights and safety of all members of the school community, needed to be put in place.