1683888756 Beatings spit insults One in two educators experience violence

‘Beatings, spit, insults’: One in two educators experience violence

He punches her in the stomach multiple times and keeps insulting her by calling her a big slut.

At another elementary school in the area, a student threw chairs and toys at his teacher. I was in pain for an hour, she says.

These events appear to be isolated and limited to a handful of children, but that is not the case.

Kicks, punches, slaps, verbal abuse and assaults follow one another and are similar in twenty recent incident reports obtained by Radio-Canada. They come from schools in the Center de Services Scolaire des Hautes-Rivières (CSSDHR) in Montérégie.

And the situation is not limited to the region.

According to a survey by the Federation of Public Service Employees (FEESP-CSN), almost every second child care worker states that she has been the victim of verbal or physical violence.

Almost 1,500 educators working in schools took part in this survey of FEESP-CSN support staff.

  • 50% say they have suffered emotional abuse from children;

  • 41% say they have been physically abused by children;

  • 30% say they were emotionally abused by their parents.

The survey was conducted between August and January. The FEESP is the largest union group in child day care with nearly 9,200 educators.

This kid, I loved her, but that was too much

Rebecca Smith loves her job and the children she takes care of. She is a teacher in a day-care center in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Rebecca Smith in front of a fence.

Rebecca Smith has worked as an educator in Montérégie schools for 13 years.

Photo: Ivanoh Demers

She has 13 years of experience as an educator. But these days, she carries a burden of anxiety that won’t go away as student aggressive episodes increase.

In recent incidents, a child in his group was upset at the end of a period of activity and nearly injured someone.

He didn’t want to leave the room. He threw chairs and I got a punch right in the chest. I was spat in the face, she says.

In her incident report, which we consulted, the educator described being stunned. It states that the student also threatened to kill her with a knife.

“Some of my colleagues are afraid of him,” says the teacher, who nevertheless continues to take him under her wing.

Often [d’autres éducatrices] I’ll call to pick him up when he’s at the gym because I have the benefit of having bonded with him.

“You know, these are my children, my friends. »

– A quote from Rebecca Smith, Educator

A school classroom was upside down after a student knocked over the furniture.

The child began throwing chairs, knocking over furniture and uttering insults in this room at a school in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Photo: Courtesy: Hautes-Rivières CSN supports the staff union

This child is from a regular class. The school team is not aware of any diagnosis from him.

However, like all educators, Rebecca also looks after students with special challenges, according to the established diagnosis, some of whom have serious behavioral problems.

The mere mention of a former student’s name sends chills down his spine.

The kid was in a class called CDAC during the pandemic. A course in emotional and behavioral development. These are children with serious behavioral problems, explains Rebecca.

In this specialist class, four adults looked after six children: the teacher, two specialist pedagogists and a psychopedagogue.

However, when the bell rings, specialty class students go to the daycare service (for those enrolled there), but the specialty staff do not follow in most Quebec schools.

Outcome: Rebecca took care of this child who needed special attention and her 19 other students on her own.

One day, she says, I got chairs and furniture. He tossed me a computer, pencils and a container full of LEGO.

The educator isolated the nearly six-year-old child in a glass-enclosed classroom where she could watch them to make sure they didn’t hurt themselves and asked the other 19 students to wait on the other side.

There is no TES [technicienne en service de garde] Who comes to my rescue at night to help me, you understand?

And these are just a few examples among many.

In a group, there can easily be six or seven students who have a seizure or become violent on the same day. “I’m talking about hitting and screaming,” says Sabrina Tétreault, a teacher at a Granby school.

You know, it’s hard hearing screams all day. When I say shout, I mean shout loud enough for the student to be heard throughout the school, gives her as an example.

Sabrina Tétreault in front of the Phénix school in Granby, where she works.

Sabrina Tétreault, who works at the École du Phénix in Granby, wants to make Quebecers aware of the working conditions of daycare workers.

Photo: Ivanoh Demers

The kid who has been at school since 6:30 am, who freaked out at noon because she was angry, whom we finally managed to calm down, but who doesn’t want to go to class when the bell rings, imagine before 3 pm how exhausted he is, she argues.

Sabrina got bloody a few years ago. She had to go to the hospital. At the time, she thought it was an isolated case. Today she finds that the violent incidents have become the norm.

“We walk on eggshells to avoid violence while working in elementary schools. elementary schools! »

— A quote from Sabrina Tétreault, educator

“It’s hard for me to imagine what we live like in the youth centers,” says Rebecca Smith.

From Granby to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu to Montreal, the situation is the same: Few educators complete incident reports, resulting in a glaring lack of statistics on the phenomenon, Radio-Canada.

“I’ve seen educators get hit, twist their arms, get bitten by kids, and never file a complaint,” said Lydie Beaubrun, a seven-year preschool teacher at a Montreal school’s Mile-End.

Reports are the workhorse of unions. The educators we spoke to all reiterated that they did not have time to fill out incident reports.

For years they have been told: Complete your reports! even if it’s just verbal. Being called names like “fat cow” day in and day out is tough. The psychological aftermath, sometimes taking even longer to heal than a bruise, points out Annie Charland, president of the schools sector at the Federation of Public Sector Employees (FEESP-CSN).

Annie Charland, President of the School Sector at the Federation of Public Sector Employees (FEESP-CSN).

Annie Charland, President of the School Sector at the Federation of Public Sector Employees (FEESP-CSN)

Photo: Radio Canada / Julie Marceau

The Center de Services Scolaire des Hautes-Rivières (CSSDHR), contacted by Radio-Canada, also emphasizes the importance of incident reporting.

“They allow us to identify concrete measures to create a safe environment for everyone,” says Me Céline Falardeau, director of legal affairs and communications, who confirms that the school center is concerned about this particular context.

“The pandemic has exacerbated these problems. »

– A quote from Annie Charland, President of the School Sector at FEESP-CSN

Creation of a special committee on violence

The Federation of School Service Centers (FCSSQ) also has no data that would allow it to confirm or refute whether the phenomenon of violence in schools is more present than before.

The federation states that it is very concerned about the safety of its staff and also confirms the forthcoming establishment of a “Special Committee on Violence and the Risk of Aggression in the School Environment”. The latter will have the task of “understanding the phenomenon of violence in the school environment and identifying additional options for action”, specifies Caroline Dupré, President and CEO of the FCSSQ.

A team from the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) has been studying the phenomenon as part of broader work on the mental health of school staff. The results of this survey will be published in the coming months.

Local unions were surprised and concerned

The president of the Syndicat du personal de soutien des Hautes-Rivières, Jacques Lanciault, admits that the survey was designed to take the pulse of staff in the course of negotiations between the Quebec government and public sector workers.

In his opinion, however, no one expected so many violent incidents.

Nobody knows each other between Sorel, Granby and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. But the results are the same, he says.

It really is, essentially, the problem. Can you find me another place in society where we can hit people but there are no consequences? It makes no sense for employees to put up with these gestures and behaviors, the president adds.

“It’s different in high school. In the case of serious acts of violence, the police intervene. »

— A quote from Jacques Lanciault, President of the Support Staff Union of Hautes-Rivières

However, in his opinion, the problem is very complex. However, the President calls for an important consideration of how to ensure both the safety of children in a climate of goodwill and the safety of school staff.

Representatives of the Val-des-Cerfs technical, administrative and educational staff union and the Hautes-Rivières support staff union, members of the FEESP-CSN, will hold a press conference on Friday to discuss the increase in incidents of violence in local schools.

Child care is not parking

Lydie Beaubrun, Rebecca Smith and Sabrina Tétreault have in common that they experience episodes of violence but also love their children and take care of their development through various activities.

It’s not a children’s parking lot, as some parents think, but childcare, says Rebecca Smith. We work hard to get students engaged in activities and develop their skills.

And every educator has a success story. Among the interventions she is proud of, Rebecca Smith mentions a young person who had speech problems whom she had improvised.

He found it difficult to articulate and the words were unclear. I got him out of his comfort zone with the improvisation exercise. I told all the other students to listen.

Something clicked: he started talking! It kind of appreciated him. “He has now gone to CEGEP,” she says proudly in her voice.

“We’re not just babysitters. We know what they’re going through. »

– A quote from Rebecca Smith, Educator

Lydie Beaubrun has her suns too, including a 10-year-old child with Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

We have established a morning to night routine. He knows the routine. If I ask him for something, he will do it, but if it’s someone else, he won’t. When he gets his cab at the end of the day, he says: Bye Lydie, bye my love.