71% of School Support Staff are Victims of Violence

2 October 2018

A Disturbing Survey

Violence has become a real scourge in our schools, with a survey conducted by the firm Ad Hoc Research, in collaboration with the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ), revealing that in 2017-2018, no less than 71% of support staff surveyed say they have experienced workplace violence.

Significant data from the survey indicates that 82% of the staff victimized by abuse identified students as the main source of the incidents.  Support staff who work more closely with students seem to be more at risk of violence.  In fact, 82% of our members who provide direct services to students have experienced violence, compared to 41% of administrative support staff and 33% of manual staff.

Women more affected than men

Another disturbing phenomenon is that women are affected by violence more often (75% of them) than men (51%).  More than half (54%) of these victims of violence have at least two distinct incidents to report, once physical and the other non-physical (shouting, profanity, offensive language, intimidation and threats). In both cases, employees trained to intervene in crisis situations are the most affected: 71% were victims of physical incidents and 67% of non-physical incidents.

Age also seems to be a factor in the reported incidents, with 77% of respondents under the age of 35 who report being victims of violence, compared to 65% of staff aged 45 and over.

It should be noted that 1,839 people participated in the survey, which was conducted between June 6 and July 12, 2018.  The maximum margin of error associated with the survey is 2.2% at a 95% level of confidence.

An urgent need to act

FPSS-CSQ President Éric Pronovost believes the results of this survey show that the situation is even more serious than we thought.

“The data speaks for itself and demands action be taken immediately in our schools and institutions to address the problem.  We obviously cannot tolerate such a situation any longer, with the health and safety of school support staff at risk,” says Pronovost.

What needs to be done

Pronovost believes that immediate solutions must be found to prevent the occurrence, as much as possible, of such unacceptable situations.

“There are several reasons to explain this surge of violence in our schools and institutions, among which we cannot ignore severe budget cuts that have particularly affected school support staff.  Obviously, with fewer staff to provide direct services to students, conditions are not ideal to ensure a harmonious workplace.  The absence of staff ratios in daycare services and the lack of space are other factors that could explain the unhealthy climate that sometimes prevails,” according to the President of the FPSS-CSQ.

Too much violence

Éric Pronovost will use today’s National School Support Staff Day to acknowledge the steadfast commitment of these workers to students, other staff and administrations, workers with difficult jobs, too often precarious and without the recognition they deserve.

Éric Pronovost, President of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire, concludes by saying, “In this context, it is even more unacceptable that, in addition to being unacknowledged and treated poorly, school support staff members must deal with physical and verbal abuse.  This must stop, and we will insist that school and board administrators assume their responsibility to protect support staff.

View the survey results (in French)

Martin Cayouette, Communications Advisor