Survey: Majority of Florida teachers say not enough resources to combat student violence

ORLANDO, Fla. — Many teachers are considering leaving the profession because of student violence -- fights in classrooms and teachers being attacked.+

In an exclusive, statewide survey, 9 Investigates heard from more than 2,500 teachers across Florida. In our series, Teachers Under Attack, we’re revealing the harsh realities teachers said they’re facing in the classroom.


More than half of Florida teachers we heard from say there aren’t enough resources to combat student violence. Nearly half who took our survey said violent students are not being held accountable.

“We need to go back to not being afraid to do disciplinary actions,” said Betty Smith.

Smith is a Volusia County teacher’s assistant who was attacked while trying to protect a student who was in her classroom, hiding from another student who wanted to fight him.

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That other student managed to get in while Smith was trying to close the door.

“To get me out of the way, the boy took his fist and slammed it into my arm,” Smith said.

Smith said the bruises on her arm could have been avoided if Volusia County Schools enforced a zero-tolerance policy.

She said the student who was hiding in her classroom was accused of making threats the day before.

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“He was screaming and hollering and trying to bust into a room... saying to the other boy, he’s going to kill him. More than once,” Smith said.

Smith claims the school didn’t do anything except calm the student down. Volusia County Schools said it is “unable to discuss individual discipline matters but follow the Student Code of Conduct when it comes to discipline.”

“We have to get over being afraid to write a referral because it will make the school look bad or the county look bad,” Smith said. “We need to start taking control of the classroom again. This behavior will not be tolerated.”

Majority of Florida teachers who took our survey agreed.

Of the more than 2,500 Florida educators who weighed in, 53 percent said there are not enough resources to address violent behavior in school.

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When asked what they think would help improve teacher safety the most, more than half (58 percent) supported zero-tolerance policies over things like additional police officers or counselors.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association agrees, stated there must be stricter penalties.

“You’ll hear it very often in schools, especially in elementary schools, where kids might go get sent to the office, and then the kids come back with a lollipop. So that kind of sends the wrong message. There needs to be consistent discipline processes in every school, in every classroom,” Spar said.

Spar said the state needs to allocate more resources to address student’s mental health.

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