(WFSB) – Eyewitness News has been getting an in-depth look at what’s happening in Connecticut classrooms.
A survey was sent to 50,000 local teachers about a variety of topics.
One of those topics is, 'have teachers been threatened by students?' and, 'do they want to carry guns?'
Eyewitness News spoke with a Manchester High School teacher who said, yes, she has been threatened and has seen students threaten other students.
Two teacher unions in the state, the CEA AFT Connecticut sent out a 23-question survey to understand what teachers have to deal with.
“I have taught in an alternative program and that could get a little heated from time to time and I’ve had students amp up and get into your face and get more aggressive,” said Kate Dias, Manchester High School teacher.
Kate Dias, whose been teacher more 20 years, isn’t the only teacher to say she’s been threatened.
Almost 50 percent of teachers surveyed say they’ve been threatened by a student and an overwhelming 67 percent say they’ve seen students threaten classmates.
“It’s not often. It’s an infrequent experience, but I will say it is one that sticks with you and is really emotional because we look at our children as our children,” Dias said.
Dias said when she was threatened it happened after she sent a student to the office. Moments later, he returned to the classroom.
“[He] says, ‘I want back in’ and pulling on the door. I said you need to get back to the office. I opened to door to talk to him and he started punching the walls and I don’t know if the next thing he punches is going to be me,” Dias said.
The Secretary-Treasurer of AFT Connecticut, David Hayes, testified at the state capitol earlier this year in support of a bill to enhance classroom safety. It never made it to the floor for a vote.
“We experience students who run from the classroom or even the school. They spit. They strip off their clothes. I know of support staff who keep a change of clothes in their rooms in case they get spit on or sweat through their clothes. Schools now keep plastic face shields for protection against spitters, and Kevlar sleeves for protection from biters,” Hayes said.
An anonymous kindergarten teacher submitted a written testimony in support of the same bill saying, “I’ve been punched in the face, kicked, punched, pinched, and slapped on numerous occasions. I have been attacked by flying book baskets, shoes, chairs, and other objects…”
Almost 60 percent of teachers combined strongly agree and agree that violence or the threat of violence makes them less eager to challenge or discipline students.
Then, there’s the debate if teachers want to be armed in school.
An overwhelming 92 percent said no.
“Under no circumstances. I can say, I stand with the 92 percent of my colleagues that say no thank you. That is not my job, it was not what I was trained to do,” Dias said.
That leads to bullying inside Connecticut schools.
Over 48% of teachers believe it is a problem, and nearly 10% take it a step farther, saying it's a major problem.
Additionally, 36% observe that it's a minor problem where they teach.
When it comes to the question of whether or not enough is being done to curb the problem, it's pretty even, with 46% of teachers say yes, while 48% think not enough is being done to stop it.
"In this day and age, it's very easy to be a bully because you can do it without looking someone in the eye. You can do it online. As we know through the different multi-media platforms we have, it's much easier to be mean to someone when you're not with them on a daily basis,” said Richard Schwab, former dean of the NEAG School of Education at Uconn.