Abuse against teachers has reached ‘unacceptable levels’
Abuse against teachers has reached ‘unacceptable levels’

Principal hits out at abusive parents

A QUEENSLAND school principal has warned parents abusive attacks on teachers had reached "unacceptable" levels, and derogatory emails and social media posts would be investigated.

In a recent newsletter to parents The Gap State High School in Brisbane principal Anne McLauchlan said she "had reflected on the incidents of abuse my staff and I, as principal, have endured at the hands of a minority of parents over the last twelve months".

"Nearly every one of these incidents involved social media or email," she said.

"On two occasions, parents have been directed off the grounds due to their hostility."

Ms McLauchlan also said just a few weeks into the new school year "unacceptable portrayals of staff, without their permission, have been uploaded onto social media sites".

 

She added that the "level (of incidents) experienced last year was unacceptable", and "the number of incidents involving email and Facebook insults, defamation and threats towards school staff are growing."

Though Ms McLauchlan did not disclose details of specific incidents which had occurred in 2019, police were called to the school last February after threatening graffiti was discovered on school grounds.

Ms McLauchlan also said she had issued a directive to staff that if they were on the receiving end of an abusive phone call from a parent they were to request the "tone" changed or else immediately hang up, and not to respond directly to "derogatory, insulting or threatening emails".

The Gap State High School principal Anne McLauchlan has told parents that abusive attacks on staff had reached “unacceptable” levels. Pic: Peter Wallis
The Gap State High School principal Anne McLauchlan has told parents that abusive attacks on staff had reached “unacceptable” levels. Pic: Peter Wallis

"In the case of derogatory, insulting and unsolicited social media posts about staff, the materials will be reported to the state government's Information Services branch for investigation," she said.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates told The Courier-Mail similar issues were being faced by many schools in the state, and that the amount of abuse directed towards principals and teachers had reached 'a crescendo"

"We would encourage schools to take that kind of stand ... there's no excuse for bad behaviour," he said.

"It has become a national issue, particularly over the past two years."

The Department of Education told The Courier-Mail there "was no higher priority than the safety and wellbeing of students and staff".

"Violence in any form is not tolerated in Queensland state schools," a department spokesman said.

In 2018 there were 277 accepted WorkCover claims lodged by teachers relating to violence or assault in Queensland, and 86 accepted psychological injury claims.

A recent survey of Australian school principals revealed a third of principals had been attacked, and Mr Bates said it was a similar scenario for many teachers.

 

Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates says abuse towards teachers has become a national issue. Pic: Liam Kidston
Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates says abuse towards teachers has become a national issue. Pic: Liam Kidston

One anonymous principal said they had been abused several times by parents, with one saying "they'd put me through a glass window, and a parent telling me they know where I live and will come and deal with me and my family".

"We're seeing reports of acute issues happening as early as a few weeks into this term - in my experience that's unusual, and a sign that things are going downhill," Mr Bates said.

"It's not just the physical impact, but the psychological health and wellbeing impact on workers.

"(Students) are often mimicking behaviour that are seeing from their parents. Unless the parents conduct themselves well, the kids won't either."



Why tackling feral deer plague is not so simple

premium_icon Why tackling feral deer plague is not so simple

Concerns are being raised after a vehicle was wiped out by a deer.

House demolition, block of units poised for suburban site

premium_icon House demolition, block of units poised for suburban site

This will be the sixth unit block in the street

AUCTION: Million dollar home fails to sell under the hammer

premium_icon AUCTION: Million dollar home fails to sell under the hammer

Potential buyers urged to act fast, with negotiations under way