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10% of Finnish teachers suffer from violence in schools

Published : 19 Feb 2020, 21:26

  DF-Xinhua Report

File picture of a school in Helsinki. Photo Source: City of Helsinki by Kimmo Brandt.

Up to 10 percent of teachers in Finland suffered from violence in schools last year, and an increasing number of teachers have started to take self-defense courses for protecting themselves from violent behaviors, showed data from the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ) on Tuesday.

   According to preliminary data from the OAJ's working life barometer, one in ten teachers in Finland experienced violence at work in 2019. A total of 400 cases of violence were reported in kindergartens and 650 in comprehensive schools.

   School violence caused sick leaves taken by teachers. As a result of violence, the number of teachers on sick leave increased in the past two years. About 9 percent of teachers who experienced violence were on sick leave in 2019, and the figure in 2017 was 5 percent.

   Vesa Ilves, researcher at OAJ, told Finnish broadcaster Yle on this issue that the perpetrators are usually pupils, and very seldom parents of pupils or colleagues.

   An increasing number of teachers have begun taking self-defense courses for protecting themselves from violence, a self-defense trainer Janne Ahonen told Yle, adding that the act of restraining a student should be safe for both the teacher and the student.

   A survey conducted by OAJ showed that 75 percent of teachers believed self-defense training helped them manage violent situations.

   The use of drugs is one of the possible reasons for the increase in violent behavior among students. In addition, if a school has not enough special classes to deal with this, challenges may increase, according to Ahonen.

   Paivi Anttila, assistant principal of a school in Ylojarvi, western Finland, was quoted by Yle as saying that even though a school principle or teacher has the right to remove an aggressive student from the classroom, the situation must be handled cautiously.

   "We have to be very careful about the legalities of what action we are allowed to take. Excessive use of force is strictly prohibited," Anttila said.