INDIANAPOLIS –  Indiana educators say there is a concerning trend happening in schools. There’s an increase in reports of violence among students and violence directed at school personnel.

It’s a nationwide problem. The American Psychological Association surveyed thousands of teachers, administrators and staff across the country while many schools were operating online or hybrid.

It found roughly one third of teachers report they’ve experienced at least one incident of verbal harassment or threat of violence from students and 29 percent report at least one incident from a parent during the pandemic.

The Indiana State Teachers Association told us, it’s heard from teachers here who have noticed the trend. President Keith Gambill believes there are a number of factors, including the pandemic, the challenge of bouncing between virtual and in-person learning, adjustments to programs students participate in.

Gambill also believes mental illness plays a part. Students are dealing with isolation, helplessness and are having troubles navigating which could result in violence.

“We need resources to help these students better understand what is happening in their lives and ways in which they can help cope with the situation,” said Gambill, “A part of that training is how to identify students who need additional support and then we need to make sure we have the resources for those supports in our schools.”

Gambill said, there was a bill this past legislative session that would have addressed a greater look into situations like this, but it didn’t make it through the Senate.

According to the study almost half of educators expressed a plan or desire to quit because of the rise in violence and threats.  Gambill hopes this trend doesn’t compound the on-going teacher shortage.

“What we know then happens – when we have teacher shortages, we have substitute teachers  that are brought in that might not have the training and background knowledge they need. Schools do what they can to try and make accommodations, which might mean the class size starts to get larger. It’s more difficult for the instructor to get to know all of those students and to be able to identify the issues they may be having,” said Gambill.

Gambill said for the most part, Hoosier families have been supportive and helpful during this time.

“We should be having a conversation about taking a step back in the work that we’re doing and recognizing that we do have the time to get the students caught up academically, but there are other parts of life and learning to work in a school that for over two years – that’s been interrupted,” added Gambill.

Click here to read the full study by the American Psychological Association study.

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