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Indicator 5: Teachers Threatened With Injury or Physically Attacked by Students
(Last Updated: March 2018)

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.

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 teachers38 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.

During the 2015–16 school year, 10 percent of public school teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student from their school (figure 5.1 and table 5.1). 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. The percentage of public school teachers reporting 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.


Figure 5.1. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from school during the previous 12 months: Selected school years, 1993–94 through 2015–16

Figure 5.1. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from school during the previous 12 months: Selected school years, 1993–94 through 2015–16

NOTE: 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.


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 (10 percent each; figure 5.2 and table 5.1). However, a higher percentage of female public school teachers than of male public school teachers reported being physically attacked by a student (6 percent vs. 4 percent).


Figure 5.2. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from school during the previous 12 months, by sex: School year 2015–16

Figure 5.2. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from school during the previous 12 months, by sex: School year 2015–16

NOTE: 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.


There were some differences in the percentages of public school teachers who reported being threatened by a student or being physically attacked by the race/ethnicity of the teacher. In the 2015–16 school year, a higher percentage of Black public school teachers (12 percent) than of White (10 percent) and Hispanic (8 percent) public school teachers reported being threatened by a student. A higher percentage of public school teachers of other racial/ethnic groups39 (7 percent) than of Hispanic public school teachers (5 percent) reported being physically attacked by a student.

The percentages of public school teachers who reported being threatened with injury or being physically attacked by a student also varied by the instructional level of the teacher. 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 (figure 5.3 and table 5.1).


Figure 5.3. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from school during the previous 12 months, by instructional level: School year 2015–16

Figure 5.3. Percentage of public school teachers who reported that they were threatened with injury or that they were physically attacked by a student from school during the previous 12 months, by instructional level: School year 2015–16

NOTE: Includes teachers in both traditional public schools and public charter schools. Instructional level divides teachers into elementary or secondary based on a combination of the grades taught, main teaching assignment, and the structure of the teachers' class(es). Please see appendix B for a more detailed definition.
SOURCE: National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), "Public School Teacher Data File," 2015–16.


The 2011–12 school year was the most recent survey year for which state-level data on public school teachers' reports of being threatened with injury or physically attacked by a student were available. During the 2011–12 school year, the percentage of public school teachers who reported being threatened with injury by a student ranged from 5 percent in Oregon to 18 percent in Louisiana (table 5.2). The percentage who reported being physically attacked by a student ranged from 3 percent in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, North Dakota, and Oregon to 11 percent in Wisconsin.


This indicator has been updated to include 2015–16 data. For more information: Tables 5.1 and 5.2, appendix B for definitions of instructional levels, and Taie and Goldring (2017), (https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017072.pdf).


38 Includes teachers in both traditional public schools and public charter schools.
39 Includes teachers who were American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Pacific Islander, and of Two or more races.