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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Preprimary, Elementary, and Secondary Education

Teachers Threatened With Injury or Physically Attacked by Students

Last Updated: May 2021
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This indicator also appears under School Crime and Safety.

During the 2015–16 school year, a higher percentage of elementary public school teachers than of secondary public school teachers reported being threatened with injury (11 vs. 9 percent) or being physically attacked (9 vs. 2 percent) by a student from their school.

Students are not the only victims of intimidation and violence in schools. Teachers are also subject to threats and physical attacks, and students from their schools sometimes commit these offenses. In 2015–16, the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) asked public school teachers1 whether they were threatened with injury or physically attacked by a student from their school in the previous 12 months. These questions were also asked in the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) administered between 1993–94 and 2011–12. The NTPS was designed to allow comparisons with SASS data. However, because the 2015–16 NTPS was only administered to public school teachers whereas SASS was administered to both public and private school teachers, this indicator focuses on public school teachers only.

Select a subgroup characteristic from drop-down menu below to view relevant text and figures.

Figure 1. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from their school during the previous 12 months: Selected school years, 1993–94 through 2015–16
Figure 1. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from their school during the previous 12 months: Selected school years, 1993–94 through 2015–16

NOTE: Teachers who taught only prekindergarten students are excluded. Includes teachers in both traditional public schools and public charter schools.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 1993–94, 1999–2000, 2003–04, 2007–08, and 2011–12; “Charter School Teacher Data File,” 1999–2000; and National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 2015–16. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 228.70.

During the 2015–16 school year, 10 percent of public school teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student from their school. This percentage was lower than in 1993–94 (13 percent) but higher than in 2003–04 (7 percent) and 2007–08 (8 percent). There was no measurable difference between the percentages of public school teachers who reported being threatened with injury by a student in 2011–12 and 2015–16. Threats of injury were more common than actual physical attacks in all survey years. The percentage of public school teachers who reported that they had been physically attacked by a student from their school in 2015–16 (6 percent) was higher than in all previous survey years (around 4 percent in each survey year) except in 2011–12, when the percentage was not measurably different from that in 2015–16. [Time series ]
Figure 2. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from their school during the previous 12 months, by sex: School year 2015–16
Figure 2. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from their school during the previous 12 months, by sex: School year 2015–16

NOTE: Teachers who taught only prekindergarten students are excluded. Includes teachers in both traditional public schools and public charter schools.

SOURCE: National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 2015–16. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 228.70.

During the 2015–16 school year, there was no measurable difference between the percentages of male and female public school teachers who reported being threatened with injury by a student from their school (10 percent each). However, a higher percentage of female public school teachers than of male public school teachers reported being physically attacked by a student (6 vs. 4 percent). [Sex]
The percentages of public school teachers who reported being threatened with injury or being physically attacked by a student from their school varied by the race/ethnicity of the teacher. In the 2015–16 school year, the percentage of Black public school teachers who reported being threatened by a student (12 percent) was higher than the percentage of White teachers (10 percent), which was in turn higher than the percentage of Hispanic teachers (8 percent). Despite these differences in the experience of threats, there was no measurable difference in the percentages of White, Black, or Hispanic public school teachers who reported being physically attacked by students. However, a higher percentage of public school teachers of other racial/ethnic groups2 (7 percent) than of Hispanic public school teachers (5 percent) reported being physically attacked by a student. [Race/ethnicity ]
Figure 3. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from their school during the previous 12 months, by instructional level: School year 2015–16
Figure 3. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from their school during the previous 12 months, by instructional level: School year 2015–16

NOTE: Teachers who taught only prekindergarten students are excluded. Includes teachers in both traditional public schools and public charter schools. Instructional level divides teachers into elementary or secondary based on a combination of grades taught, main teaching assignment, and structure of teachers' class(es), rather than the level of school in which teachers taught. Teachers with only ungraded classes were classified based on their main teaching assignment and the structure of their class(es). Among teachers with regularly graded classes, elementary teachers generally include those teaching prekindergarten through grade 6 and those teaching multiple grades, with a preponderance of grades taught being kindergarten through grade 6. In general, secondary teachers include those teaching any of grades 7 through 12 and those teaching multiple grades, with a preponderance of grades taught being grades 7 through 12 and usually with no grade taught being lower than grade 5.

SOURCE: National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), “Public School Teacher Data File,” 2015–16. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 228.70.

The percentages of public school teachers who reported being threatened with injury or being physically attacked by a student from their school also varied by the instructional level3 of the teacher. During the 2015–16 school year, higher percentages of elementary public school teachers than of secondary public school teachers reported being threatened with injury (11 vs. 9 percent) and being physically attacked (9 vs. 2 percent) by a student. [Grade level/Student level]

1 Includes teachers in both traditional public schools and public charter schools.

2 Includes teachers who were American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Pacific Islander, and of Two or more races.

3 Instructional level divides teachers into elementary or secondary based on a combination of grades taught, main teaching assignment, and structure of teachers’ class(es), rather than the level of school in which teachers taught. Teachers with only ungraded classes were classified based on their main teaching assignment and the structure of their class(es). Among teachers with regularly graded classes, elementary teachers generally include those teaching prekindergarten through grade 6 and those teaching multiple grades, with a preponderance of grades taught being kindergarten through grade 6. In general, secondary teachers include those teaching any of grades 7 through 12 and those teaching multiple grades, with a preponderance of grades taught being grades 7 through 12 and usually with no grade taught being lower than grade 5.

Supplemental Information

Table 228.70 (Digest 2020): Number and percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or physically attacked by a student from school during the previous 12 months, by selected teacher characteristics: Selected years, 1993-94 through 2015-16
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Previous versions of this indicator available in the Indicators of School Crime and Safety reports.
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Suggested Citation

National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). Teachers Threatened With Injury or Physically Attacked by Students. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved [date], from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/a05.