While reports abound of students assaulting teachers and fellow students, what about abuse by teachers? Washington, D.C., school officials reported 220 allegations of students being choked, shoved, slapped, kicked, or verbally abused by teachers to impose discipline last year, says the Washington Post. School and police officials don’t know how many of the accusations of corporal punishment and verbal abuse during the 2008-09 school year resulted in disciplinary action or criminal charges against teachers.
Nor could school officials explain the variable nature of totals from prior years. In 2005-06, 219 cases were reported, and the number dropped to 89 in 2006-07 and rose slightly to 96 in 2007-08, according to police figures. The allegations, provided to the police by Hawk One, the school system’s former security contractor, were obtained by the Post under the Freedom of Information Act. They offer a vivid glimpse into an issue usually out of public view. That issue surfaced last month when Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee told a business magazine that an unspecified number of teachers laid off during October budget reductions “had hit children.” At one school in 2008, a staff member reported passing a boys’ bathroom and hearing a child say “ouch” and cry. She then heard an adult male voice say: “Now you know how it feels to hit someone.”